For the last decade, the University of Maryland has been a gold standard for NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse. The team motto of “Be The Best” has been embodied in the program with its consistent dominance across the sport. During the 2022 season, the Terps lived up to the saying and completed a perfect season capped off by a national championship.
While always being a powerhouse, the national title has eluded the Terps at times. A major reason for the title coming home to College Park in 2022 for the first time since 2017, was the goaltending from Logan McNaney.
McNaney was an absolute wall in net for the Terps last season and was elite in the postseason for the Terps, earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. However, with McNaney suffering a season ending injury during Maryland’s loss to the Loyola Greyhounds early in the season, the Terps were left with a massive void between the pipes which was made apparent during the following game against Syracuse.
Enter the third string freshman, Brian Ruppel.
Ruppel splashed onto the scene for the Terps in his first start against the Princeton Tigers. Ruppel made 14 saves against the Tigers while allowing five goals, securing a win and a .737 save percentage. An absolute dream debut for the hometown freshman. Since his starting debut, Brian Ruppel is 2-1, only dropping a game to Notre Dame in a triple overtime thriller. But this past weekend, Ruppel truly cemented himself for the Terps as the starter with his performance against the Virginia Cavaliers.
In a battle of two of the best teams in the sport, it was only right that the sold-out crowd at Klöckner Stadium witnessed an elite back and forth battle that needed overtime to claim a winner. In overtime, Ruppel would be the difference maker and produce an unbelievable three save sequence against two wide open step-downs and a doorstep finish to thwart an overtime win for Virginia. Maryland would ultimately take the ball to the other end and put the ball behind a declining Virginia goaltender to claim the victory.
In a game that came down to a single goal, Brian Ruppel was the key to success.
The injury to Logan McNaney during the upset loss to the Loyola Greyhounds, left even more questions for the Terps early in the season. McNaney is undoubtedly one of Maryland’s best goaltenders since Niko Amato and Kyle Bernlohr, losing him was a major blow to the Terps who were undoubtedly entering the season with extremely high expectations. But fortunately, it looks like Ruppel will be able handle the pressure, and allow this Maryland team to make a run for another championship.
While only time will tell how the Terps season will finish, it would be fair to say that at this point it does not look like goaltending will be holding them back.
The Terps return to action on March 25th to faceoff against a No.5 Penn State team who is looking to rebound after a tough 11-12 loss to Marquette.