COLLEGE PARK — Matt Rambo threw his arms in the air and unleashed a stern fist pump skyward as teammates Ben Chisolm, Colin Heacock and Ethan Mintzer embraced University of Maryland’s new scoring king. Rambo’s latest strike, a 13-yard running dagger across his body to emphatically balloon Maryland’s lead to eight over contiguous rival Johns Hopkins, was his 232nd career point in a Terps uniform, surpassing Bob Boneillo for No. 1 all-time, who held the record since 1980.
— Maryland Lacrosse (@TerpsMLax) April 30, 2017
The script on Saturday night at Maryland Stadium couldn’t have climaxed any sweeter. Rambo, fittingly, went on to tie his career-high for points in a single game with seven (three goals, four assists) as No. 5 Maryland rolled to a blowout 12-5 win over No. 8 Johns Hopkins, claiming “The Rivalry” trophy for the third year in a row as well as the Big Ten regular season title in front of 14,353 fans — the largest regular season home crowd since 1989.
“It’s special to me,” Rambo said of holding the all-time scoring mark. “But I have to thank all my teammates I’ve had over the last four years, the scout guys, my coaches for developing me as a player and pushing me to be the best, trying to be the best. It’s special.”
For Maryland (10-3, 4-1), it was their third straight conference title in a row since jumping ships from the ACC to the Big Ten. They also have an NCAA-best 14 seasons with 10 or more wins and an NCAA-high 14 national tournament appearances.
“Big Ten conference champions, it’s obviously really special,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “We’ve had ups and downs through the years. To see them plugging away and working, it’s great to see them keep smiling out there. There are a lot of guys who worked really hard to put us in that position, some of the guys you see right here, and some of the guys behind the scenes you don’t see. But great accomplishment for them.”
In one of the oldest rivalries in college men’s lacrosse — dating back to 1895 — Hopkins leads the all-time series 64-43-2.
Doning throwbacks from the 1967 championship season, Maryland had its way from the onset, converting on their first five shots on goal to swell the lead to 5-0 in the opening 13 minutes. Connor Kelly upstarted the onslaught with a top-shelf rocket off a skip pass from Rambo four minutes into regulation. Then three minutes later, Colin Heacock took the swing pass from Rambo, shuffled to his left, and canned his first of three goals of the night to make it 2-0. And for the next seven minutes, the Terrapins showed no remorse, pouring on eight unanswered goals to all but lock up The Rivalry trophy and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Saturday’s performance was a stark contrast between their last game last weekend, a 11-10 overtime loss to nationally ranked Ohio State, where the Terrapins squandered opportunities to put the game on ice and take sole possession of the conference lead heading into the 115th installment. But thanks to Ohio State’s loss to Rutgers this afternoon, all Maryland had to do put another one in the win column and the conference title was theirs. The Terps did it emphatic fashion, outshooting Hopkins 37-28, winning the groundball battle 27-15 and staking an 8-0 lead 18 minutes into regulation.
Dan Morris (10-3) recorded nine saves for Maryland. Kelly finished with a game-high four goals, now giving him 28 goals for the season. Heacock, who finished with a hat-trick, now has 21 goals on the year.
“We talked all year, we hadn’t played our best game yet,” Tillman said. “I do think this our best effort, top to bottom. The energy that we played with, the hustle. ”
Hopkins scored their first goal at the 9:13 mark in the second quarter when Cole Williams netted his fifth of the year, but Tim Rotanz’s goal to beat the first half buzzer gave Maryland a 9-1 halftime lead. Heacock then swelled the lead to 10-1 minutes into the second half before Hopkins showed a glimmer of life with back-to-back goals at the four and three-minute marks to bring it to 10-3.
But Rambo kept piling it on, sniping his 33rd goal and 63rd point of the year on an assisted score with 15 seconds to go in the third quarter. Rambo needed six points to break the program’s all-time scoring record — he did that in 18 minutes — and finished with seven overall.
“Part of what’s made this program successful is guys don’t talk about or focus on records,” Tillman said. “I think what they all have in common is, everyone wants to win, be the best you can be. Whoever got the points, noone really cares. I think Matt’s one of those guys, too. If we’re winning, it doesn’t really matter.”
Rambo never envisioned this moment. A national championship would override it all, most likely, as it should. But if we’re talking about Saturday, it was Rambo’s night. After scribbling his signature on many pieces of merchandise for the jubilant youth chanting his name, he embraced his mom, who wore a “Matt Rambo is Rambo” shirt. It wasn’t just a regular shirt. Rambo’s face was photoshopped overtop of Sylvester Stallone, who starred as John Rambo, a United States Army Special Forces soldier in the 1982 movie “Rambo.”
It wasn’t to that extent, but Rambo soldiered his way into the history books forever.
— Kyle McFadden (@k_fadd) April 30, 2017
“I never really thought this day would come,” Rambo said. “The crowd was awesome tonight. They gave us a lot of energy. Just seeing my mom at the end was super special. She’s my biggest supporter. She goes to every game. Seeing her, it was awesome.”