With about 10 seconds left in the first half of the Maryland men's lacrosse team's 16-14 win against High Point on Saturday, Panthers defenseman Chris Price sprinted forward after gaining possession from a turnover.
With room to shoot past the No. 2 Terps' defense, Price found the back of the net to cap a 4-0 High Point run. If Maryland's defense had gotten its hands up, Price might not have had time to take the shot, coach John Tillman said afterward.
The Panthers' first-half rally was one example of Maryland's defensive struggles. After holding Navy and Marist to fewer than 10 goals, the unit — still without injured defenseman Bryce Young — had difficulty containing the Panthers attack. The 14 goals are the most the Terps have allowed since May 30, 2016, when North Carolina scored 14 times in the national championship game.
"I knew going into this year there were going to be some moments where it's not going to be pretty," Tillman said. "You can't replace what we replaced and then have a couple of injuries and expect it to be magic."
Still, the group that graduated defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen and top defenseman Tim Muller last spring allowed the Panthers to remain competitive after a low-scoring first quarter. Maryland boasted a 6-2 advantage after the first 15 minutes. The squad was similarly effective early in the second quarter, taking a commanding 10-3 lead. Then, High Point took control.
Panthers attackman Connor Robinson, who scored four times, recorded the second goal of the team's end-of-half run. It was the first goal the Terps have allowed down a man this year. There was no panic on the sideline, Tillman said, but his young team wasn't communicating the same way it had in its first two wins.
"We had been playing smart and disciplined," Tillman said. "We kind of got away from that. If that's something that we do, we're going to struggle."
It took nine seconds for Robinson to score again in the third quarter, which made it a two-point game. Midfielder Mitchel Snyder scored High Point's 10th goal.
The unit refocused, though, not allowing the Panthers to score in the final four minutes of the game. Maryland's attack did enough to secure the win.
Though the Terps don't want to position themselves to give up as many as 14 goals, they know with a new-look roster, they might be involved in a number of high-scoring games.
Now, the group has three days before its midweek matchup with Penn to begin a stretch in which eight out of 10 games are against currently ranked teams. Consistent, aggressive defense is a priority for the Terps.
"We knew this time of year we'd have to work through some things," Tillman said. "No one hung their head. We have a next play mentality."