staff, April 23, 2015

The final week of the regular season is here. So much is on the line this weekend, as five of the six teams in the Big Ten Lacrosse Conference are still alive for the tournament. I'll bring you up to speed on each team in this post. Plus, you can watch our six team-by-team video reports detailing each squad.

Johns Hopkins (6-6, 3-1 Big Ten)

Too many times this season the Blue Jays have played in dramatic games. Hopkins has surrendered more leads than the Homewood faithful would care to see. Not this time. Playing before a sun-splashed Homecoming crowd of over 6,000 the Blue Jays ran past Michigan 16-9. The win gave the Jays their first two game win streak of the season and allowed them to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.


It all started at the faceoff dot, as Drew Kennedy claimed 18-24 to earn Big Ten Specialist of the Week. With the possessions Kennedy gave them the Blue Jays struck often with a variety of weapons, as five Hopkins players scored two or more goals. Between the pipes Eric Schneider relieved starter Will Ryan and collected 13 saves on the afternoon. The game was Hopkins most complete of the season and it couldn?t come at a better time.

On deck is what many feel is the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse: Hopkins v. Maryland. Expect a loud, energetic crowd this Saturday evening in College Park. This weekend?s game marks the 112th meeting of the Blue Jays and Terrapins on the lacrosse field. Hopkins prevailed last season 11-6, but the Terps have been to three Championship Weekends, including two title game appearances, since Hopkins last appeared in 2008. This rivalry is all about significance, and on Saturday Big Ten positioning, NCAA Tournament positioning, and simple bragging rights are on the line. Buckle your chinstraps for this one.

No. 3 Maryland (12-1, 4-0)

The Terrapins continually impress with a never say die attitude and a balanced offense. These truths were evident in their 10-9 OT victory over Ohio State. In front of 21,000+ in the Shoe everything was going right for Buckeyes in the game?s first 55 minutes. Ohio State led 9-5 at home, where they were undefeated in 2015. All of the sudden things turned; Matt Rambo trimmed the lead to 9-6 with 4:22 left in the game.

[ MORE: View the latest Big Ten men's lacrosse standings ]

By the time regulation ended three more Terps tallied to force overtime. In the extra session Jay Carlson got topside on his matchup and just whipped a hard shot into the goal to give Maryland the exciting come from behind win. Carlson won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors. Ohio native and current Maryland goaltender made eight saves in his return to his home state. With the win Maryland assures itself at least a share of the Big Ten title.

Hopkins v. Maryland resonates throughout the entire lacrosse world. The history is compelling and now the stakes are even higher with both being a part of the original Big Ten Lacrosse Conference. Goaltending and groundballs will be paramount in this one. How will each team handle the crowd, as JHU-UM at Byrd will feature some boisterous alumni? It?s Hopkins v. Maryland. Not much else needs to be said.

Michigan (5-7, 1-3)

Michigan hung with Hopkins for much of the first half before giving up a five goal run that knocked the game open for the Blue Jays. Most of the Wolverine firepower was held in check, with David Joseph being the only player to score more than one goal. Good balance but just not enough of it. Michigan did get some decent looks on the cage but was turned away by Eric Schneider. Wolverine goalie Gerald Logan did a nice job with 11 saves on the day.

The loss puts Michigan in a win or go home scenario. Victory versus Penn State on Saturday and Michigan goes to the first ever Big Ten Lacrosse tournament as the No. 4 seed. Lose and the season is done. The Wolverines are no stranger to postseason play; last year they did make the ECAC semifinals before falling to Fairfield. The last time the Wolverines tangled with Penn State in lacrosse was last season, with PSU winning 22-7. Different time, different team, Michigan is looking for a different result and a trip to the Big Ten Tournament.

No. 10 Ohio State (10-4, 3-1)

You have to think the Buckeyes let one get away. Leading No. 3 Maryland 9-5 with 4:30 left it looked like Ohio State was going to get a huge win and clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title. What?s more they may have cemented an at-large berth in the NCAAs with another quality win. But that didn?t happen as some mistakes down the stretch, coupled with the stellar play of the Terrapins, doomed the Buckeyes. Maryland scored the game?s last five goals to win 10-9 in overtime. It was still a glorious day for lacrosse as 21,000+ witnessed a terrific lacrosse game between two talented teams. A national television audience got to witness the brilliance of Jesse King, as the senior scored four times and dished two assists.

Ohio State now turns their attention to Rutgers, a dangerous team that is looking for their first ever Big Ten win. The Scarlet Knights would like nothing better than for it to come over Ohio State on Senior Day. The Buckeyes do not want this to come at their expense. With a win Ohio State will go in as no worse than the #2 seed for the Big Ten Tournament. This team will be focused and ready for the challenge in Piscataway on Saturday. Win and Ohio State could still earn a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a Maryland loss. The last time these two teams played was 1999, with Ohio State winning 11-9.

Penn State (4-8, 1-3)

With their backs against the wall and their season on the line Penn State responded with an 11-6 win over Rutgers. It took a few weeks but the Nittany Lions finally earned their first ever Big Ten Win. They did it with good offense and sound goaltending. Matt Florence, T.J. Sanders, and Mike Sutton all rung up hat tricks to pace Penn State. Sutton was also a demon on ground balls and defense on his way to being named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Netminder Conor Darcey was solid once again, recording 11 saves, a few of which he made when Penn State was in the process of building a lead.

Penn State in now firmly in the Big Ten Tournament picture. A win against Michigan on Saturday will give them the fourth and final seed. A loss will see their season end. This is a group that has played in big games before; the Nittany Lions won a CAA playoff game two years ago and hosted an NCAA Tournament game that same year. Many players, especially on the defensive end, played in those games. Will that experience be a difference maker against Michigan?

Rutgers (4-10, 0-4)

The Scarlet Knights have been a team that has battled all year. This past Sunday was no different, as Rutgers traveled to State College to battle Penn State. The stakes were understood- win and stay alive for a berth in the Big Ten Tournament, lose and watch that possibility evaporate. Rutgers hung tough, pulling to within 6-5 of the hosts at the 11:47 mark of the third period. From there it was all Penn State as the Nittany Lions cruised to an 11-6 win. A bright spot for Rutgers was Jules Heninburg. His three goal performance earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Week accolades.

One game remains for Rutgers. The opponent is Ohio State, so the motivation remains high. On Senior Day the Scarlet Knights hope to spoil some of the Buckeyes postseason aspirations and go into the offseason on a high note.

Don?t forget to check out the BTN TV schedule for lacrosse as well as the BTN Plus live streaming schedule, too.


Mark Dixon, a former Johns Hopkins lacrosse player, contributes to Inside Lacrosse and calls Big Ten men's lacrosse games on BTN. Follow him on Twitter (@dixonlacrosse).