Maryland has been the class of Big Ten Lacrosse for a number of years now. After making it to the national championship game in 2021 and winning it all in 2022, it’s easy to say that the Terps are still the team to beat. But Maryland wasn’t the only team that made the NCAA Tournament last season. With Maryland losing some offensive firepower, could Rutgers, Ohio State, or even another Big Ten team finally end Maryland’s Big Ten dominance?
Maryland was one of the most dominant teams in recent history in 2022 and they dominated Big Ten opponents, outscoring them 129-65 during conference play. Even though they lost ton of scoring due to graduation, they still return Brett Makar and Ajax Zappitello on defense along with Logan Mcnaney at goalie. This trio was dominant in 2022 and didn’t allow more than 12 goals in a single Big Ten game.
The biggest question for Maryland will be where their offense comes from. They are replacing most of their 2022 offensive group that accounted for 160 goals and 116 assists. For the first time in a few seasons, Maryland might not have the best offense in the conference and other teams might have a fighting chance because of that.
Rutgers might have the best shot to unseat Maryland as Big Ten Lacrosse Champions. The Scarlet Knights return Ross Scott and Shane Knobloch on offense, and they also have David Sprock returning who missed all of 2022 due to injury. Ethan Rall returns on the defensive side after leading the team in caused turnovers along with transfer LaJohn Jones Jr. coming over from Bryant.
Obviously there is a huge void in goal with Colin Kirst graduating, but Rutgers snagged Kyle Mullin (who was an Ivy League honorable mention at Harvard) to fill the void in net. Rutgers has used the transfer portal over the last few years to build talented rosters, and its possible that with a chink in Maryland’s armor, this might be Rutgers best chance to knock the Terps from their Big Ten reign.
Ohio State is the other team that has a real chance to win the Big Ten. The Buckeyes return Jack Myers at attack and have Hobart transfer Jason Knox looking to make an impact. “I was so excited to get a chance to play at the top level of lacrosse in the Big 10 and I can’t wait for everything ahead.”
On defense, Jacob Snyder and Bobby Van Buren lead a group that is looking to improve from last season. The Buckeyes allowed 11.62 goals per game, and they focused on that in the transfer portal, grabbing Marcus Hudgins from Army. Hudgins was the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year in 2021 and will hopefully help improve an already solid Buckeye group. The Buckeyes spent the off-season building a state of the art lacrosse facility to show that they are ready to take the next step as a program. Beating out Maryland in the Big Ten would show the rest of the country they are a top-tier program.
Maryland may be the kings of the Big Ten right now, but Rutgers and Ohio State look like they are closing that gap. While there is still a long season ahead of them, both programs look to challenge Maryland and break through with hopes of winning the Big Ten in 2023.