staff, April 30, 2015

The Big Ten Men's Lacrosse Tournament starts tonight after Johns Hopkins earned the No. 1 seed last weekend. The inaugural tournament will be hosted by Maryland, the tourney's No. 2 seed. The four-team field is round out by No. 3 seed Ohio State and No. 4 seed Penn State. Let's have a look at each program headed into the tourney, and we'll check in on Penn State and Rutgers, too.

No. 16 Johns Hopkins (7-6, 4-1 Big Ten)


The Blue Jays have now won three in a row, with none bigger than the victory over arch-rival Maryland. Down 10-9 entering the fourth period the Blue Jays used faceoff man Hunter Moreland to control possession and break open a tight game. Moreland was 7-8 in the final stanza and 15-25 for the night.

Moreland was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week for his performance. Once Hopkins got the ball Ryan Brown (8g) made the most of it. The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year scored twice in the span of 10 seconds to give the Jays a lead they would never relinquish. The final score was 15-12 Hopkins, a huge win for a team searching for a statement result. Coupled with Ohio State?s loss to Rutgers and the win Hopkins improbably earned the No. 1 seed for the Big Ten Tournament.

The opponent for the Blue Jays in the semis is Penn State. Hopkins beat the Nittany Lions 11-10 in double overtime on April 11. Brown netted five goals in that win while Wells Stanwick had a banner day with two goals and five assists. Can Penn State stop these two in the rematch? Blue Jay faceoff men Drew Kennedy and Hunter Moreland look to neutralize Penn State draw taker Drake Kreinz. Big question is who will start in goal for Hopkins? Will Ryan went the distance in the first meeting but Eric Schneider has played since and started last week v. Maryland.


No. 6 Maryland (12-2, 4-1)

After Ohio State lost to Rutgers the path to a sole Big Ten regular season title and the #1 seed in the Tournament was within reach for the Terrapins. For three quarters against Hopkins it looked as if the home team was going to reach that goal. Things changed in the fourth period, however, as the Blue Jays dominated faceoffs and Ryan Brown caught fire as Hopkins pulled away for a 15-12 decision. Prior to the 15 put up by Hopkins the most goals the Terrapins had allowed was 10, given up to only Yale and Loyola.

With the Blue Jays in the rear view mirror for the time being, the focus is now on Ohio State for the Terps. Maryland staged an incredible fourth-quarter comeback in Columbus, turning a 9-5 hole into a 10-9 overtime win. That game showed no team can sleep on this offense. What style will Maryland incorporate in the rematch? The Terps had success against the Buckeyes when they pressed and played aggressive all over the field. The proud Terp D surrendered their highest goal total of the season against Hopkins, and goalie Kyle Bernlohr had his toughest game too. This group is hungry for redemption.


Michigan (5-8, 1-4)

The Wolverines spotted Penn State a five goal lead late in the third period this past weekend in Ann Arbor before staging a furious rally. Led by attackman Ian King (6g) Michigan pulled to within a goal at 9-8 with 9:56 left to play but saw Penn State score to take a two goal lead with 5:35 left. King scored his fourth of the final period, all unassisted, with 2:27 left but that was as close as the Wolverines would get. The loss ends the season for Michigan on a 3 game slide.

Despite the loss there are a lot of positives to take from this season for Michigan. The team returns the top three scorers from 2015 in King, Kyle Jackson, and Mikie Schlosser. King and netminder Gerald Logan, who will also return, both earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten.

No. 14 Ohio State (10-5, 3-2)

Ohio State traveled to New Jersey to get their season back on track after suffering a gut wrenching loss to Maryland. Instead they got blitzed by a Rutgers team that played with poise and pride, losing 17-10. The Buckeyes simply could get any possession time going in the second quarter. During this time a 4-4 game turned into an 11-4 deficit and Ohio State never recovered. Bright spots were attackmen Colin Chell (3g) and Jesse King (1,3). Outside of that it was a day to forget for the Scarlet and Grey.

The Buckeyes fell to the No. 3 seed and will face Maryland in the Tournament semifinals. The two met a couple weeks ago in Columbus, with the Terps rallying from a 9-5 deficit to claim a 10-9 overtime victory. Ohio State has gone from possibly sealing their resume as an NCAA at-large team to being on the bubble. After losing two in a row how will the Buckeyes respond? Expect Ohio State to be composed and ready for the big stage. They know how to compete with the Terrapins and will need to find the formula that worked well for most of the last meeting between the two and play a full 60 minutes.

Penn State (5-8, 2-3)

With a berth in the Big Ten Tournament on the line Penn State built an 8-3 lead late in the third period. Michigan refused to go away, rallying to pull within a goal late. The Nittany Lions refused to be denied and used a late goal by TJ Sanders (3,1) to secure the win. After scoring in double digits only once all season Penn State has now scored 10+ in there last three. Nick Aponte (3,1) assisted Sanders on the late goal and is a big reason why.

The win earned the Nittany Lions the No. 4 seed and sets up a rematch with Hopkins in the first Big Ten semifinal. The teams played a classic a few weeks ago with the Blue Jays prevailing 11-10 in double overtime. Penn State played that game minus senior defender James Burke.

His presence in this game will be huge for the Nittany Lions. This team has been playing with a ton of confidence the last couple weeks. Facing elimination twice Penn State responded with wins over Rutgers and Michigan. In essence the Nittany Lions have been playing knock out lacrosse for the last two weeks, an accomplishment that will come in handy this Thursday evening.

Rutgers (5-10, 1-4)

Things finally fell into place for Rutgers this past weekend. Out of the mix for the Big Ten Tournament and facing a focused Ohio State team the Scarlet Knights sent their seniors out in style with a 17-10 pasting of the Buckeyes. After an entertaining first period that saw a 4-4 tie (with a goal and assist for Rutgers from Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Zach Sikora) the tide turned big time. Joe Nardella (19-28 FO, 2g) was a monster in the second quarter, winning 7-8 at the dot to fuel a 7-0 Scarlet Knight run that turned the game into a rout.

Nardella ended his terrific career in Piscataway by earning Big Ten Specialist of the Week. Goaltender Jake Anderson got the surprise start and played well, making 10 saves on the day. But this win belonged to the offense. Five Scarlet Knights scored at least twice, including Scott Bieda (2,4) and freshman Jules Heninburg (3g). Heninburg was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the third time this season.

With the season over Rutgers hopes to carry the momentum from this win into 2016. Despite the graduation of Nardella and middie Brian Goss the team returns a ton of contributors, including All Big Ten performers Bieda and Sikora.


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).