The stakes are always high when Maryland and Johns Hopkins meet in what is called "the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse."
Terrapins coach John Tillman said the game is vitally important because of the longtime rivalry between the two sides and the postseason implications typically involved.
"The rivalry is great because of the tradition, the history and great players that have been part of it," he said on his weekly conference call with the media. "The stakes are usually high on most occasions. Both teams are usually pretty highly ranked. You have a larger university and a smaller private school with proximity to each other.
"Most of the games are tight. There's a lot of fans. There are just so many things that make it special. Certainly, it's not lost on myself, the coaches and the players. It's something you look forward to and something as players you'll remember for a long time."
This year, the Blue Jays might need a victory in the 118th game between the two venerable programs to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Johns Hopkins fell to 6-6 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten after a 20-9 loss to No. 1 Penn State April 21, the first time the Blue Jays have allowed that many goals in a game since 1994. Johns Hopkins now has to knock off the second-ranked Terrapins (11-2, 3-1) to finish above the .500 mark for the regular season and boost its chances for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, which does not extend bids to teams with losing records.
Even if the Blue Jays lose to Maryland, they still have a chance to make the Big Ten tournament and get above .500 by winning two games in three days.
The other key games that will help decide the league's postseason are:
Rutgers (2-2) at No. 1 Penn State (4-0)
No. 10 Ohio State (1-3) at Michigan (0-4)
"There are eight scenarios that can play out this week in the league ... we are in the [Big Ten] tournament in seven of the eight," a Johns Hopkins athletics spokesperson said.
Maryland can likely clinch a first-round home game in the NCAA Tournament with a win -- as if the Terrapins needed any further incentive against their longtime lacrosse rival.
Johns Hopkins is uncharacteristically tied with Drexel and Quinnipiac for 57th in Division I lacrosse by allowing 12.4 goals per game.
The Blue Jays are going to have to play better defensively to beat Maryland, which averages 13 goals per game.
The Terrapins are led by sophomore attackman and Boys' Latin alum Logan Wisnauskas, who ranks first on the team with 65 points (37 goals, 28 assists). Junior attackman Jared Bernhardt is right behind him with 40 goals and 24 assists (64 points).
Maryland also has solid depth in the midfield led by sophomores Anthony DeMaio and Bubba Fairman, both of whom will try to wear down the Blue Jays with quick counterattacks.
The Blue Jays average 11 goals per game so they can technically keep pace with Maryland's attack.
Johns Hopkins is led by freshman Joe Epstein (Landon), who has 31 goals and 16 assists. Epstein and senior attackman Kyle Marr (24 goals, nine assists) are both on the 2019 Tewaaraton Award Watch List. Epstein has also been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week four times this season.
The Blue Jays lead the all-time series, 72-44-1. Last season, Maryland beat Johns Hopkins, 8-7, in three overtimes during the regular season, but the Blue Jays knocked off the Terps, 13-10, in the Big Ten championship.
"I feel like, at the end of the day, with Hopkins-Maryland, there is just going to be a ton of motivation just from the nature of the game," Tillman said. "When you add those other factors, everybody is going to be dialed in and ready to go."
Maryland 16, Johns Hopkins 12
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics and Johns Hopkins Athletics