FAIRFIELD, Conn. - When the usual suspects couldn't find the net yesterday, the Maryland men's lacrosse team turned to its reserves.
Senior attackman Andrew Schwartzman and freshman attackman Maxwell Ritz combined for five goals and two assists and the Terps' defense shut out Fairfield in the second half, leading to a 9-6 win before 1,559 at Alumni Field.
The victory was huge for the Terps, who had lost three straight and were on the brink of missing the NCAA tournament.
Ritz had two career goals entering the game and Schwartzman had four this season.
"Our backs were against the wall, and we didn't get the best game possible from Joe [Walters] and Bill [McGlone]," Ritz said. "We've been waiting for a break-out game, and this wasn't quite what we expected, but we're getting there. We want a 10-goal average, but I guess nine did the trick today."
With the win, the 10th-ranked Terps (6-5) greatly improved their NCAA tournament stock, likely needing only a win over unranked Penn in their final regular-season game to ensure a spot.
"When you don't win for a while, it's hard to win," coach Dave Cottle said. "I think this was the first step, and you're going to see us start to play a lot better. When you work hard and don't get rewarded with any victories, it's hard to keep coming back to work."
The Terps entered the game shooting 24 percent and did only worse against No. 15 Fairfield (9-3), connecting on 19 percent. Junior attackman Walters and junior midfielder McGlone were a combined 1-for-14.
But Ritz shot 2-for-5 and Schwartzman went 3-for-6 and had two assists. Schwartzman scored the Terps' first two goals after Fairfield had taken an early lead. He continually beat his man turning the corner, drawing double teams and finding the open shooter.
"This means a lot because I put a lot of pressure on myself, and it's been a tough season because I've had a lot of opportunities to help the team scoring but haven't been able to finish the ball," Schwartzman said.
The Terps' defense shut out Fairfield in the second half after a 6-6 tie at halftime. While the Stags found room between double and even triple teams in the first half, the Terps finished off their hits in the second, causing numerous turnovers.
"We told ourselves, `Hey, we've got to buckle down and play these guys harder,' " sophomore defender Steve Whittenberg said.
Maryland 2 4 3 0 - 9
Fairfield 2 4 0 0 - 6
Goals: M-Schwartzman 3, Healy 2, M. Ritz 2, X. Ritz, Walters; F-Mi. Bocklet 2, Downing, Nelson, Ma. Bocklet, Werney. Assists: M-Schwartzman 2, X. Ritz; F-Manley 3, Castele. Saves: M-Alford 7; Kruger 15.