Maryland men’s lacrosse wins national championship


Maryland men's lacrosse wins national championship

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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Maryland hadn’t lost a men’s lacrosse game since Memorial Day 2021, so the Terrapins didn’t want to allow another season to be spoiled in their last game.

The top-seeded Terps ended an unbeaten season on Monday by repelling the seventh Cornell 9-7 to secure the program’s fourth NCAA title, just a year after their perfect record in national championship play at the same field was spoiled.

“I’ve never felt that in my life before,” senior defense attorney Brett Makar said. “That kind of feeling is really indescribable. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how much it took to get back here.”

In front of a crowd of 22,184 at Rentschler Field, Maryland goalie Logan McNaney made 17 saves to cap a brilliant postseason; He was named the NCAA Tournament’s Outstanding Player. Anthony DeMaio — the bottom of the roster for the Terps’ former title team in 2017 — had four goals and one assist.

Maryland (18-0) won its second championship in seven title games under coach John Tillman, becoming the first undefeated champion since Virginia in 2006.

Forward Logan Wisnauskas broke a final record in his final game and secured Maryland’s one-season points record. He had two goals and two assists on Monday and finished the year with 103 points, beating Jared Bernhardt’s 99 mark from last season.

Maryland has won 35 of their last 36 games from the 2020 season, with their only loss coming in last year’s championship game against Virginia.

CJ Kirst scored two goals for the Big Red (14-5), who became the first team since Johns Hopkins in the 2019 Big Ten tournament to hold Maryland to fewer than 10 goals. The two-goal lead was also the smallest of the terps this season.

“By far the toughest game we’ve had all year,” Tillman said.

It was a fitting end to the tournament for McNaney, a third-year player who took over at the start of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and improved to 35-1 as a starter. He made a career-high 19 saves in Saturday’s 13-8 semifinal win over Princeton and sat Cornell out for much of the game on Monday.

In four postseason games, McNaney made 61 saves and conceded 25 goals for a .709 save rate.

“I knew I just had to come in and see the ball and save the ball,” McNaney said.

Kirst’s first goal gave Cornell a 1-0 lead, making this only the fifth game Maryland have played this season. But the terps soon corrected the situation.

DeMaio, a sixth-grader who wore the redshirt during Maryland’s 2017 title run, scored a natural hat-trick to end the first quarter and give Maryland a 4-1 lead, then assisted on the long rod for Owen Prybylski’s goal after one quick reboot two minutes after the second .

The Terps led 7-2 at half-time and Wisnauskas helped extend the lead early in the second half, scoring once and assisting Jonathan Donville’s goal to make it 9-2.

“They do a lot of things great on tape, but we thought we had the ability to beat this team,” Cornell coach Connor Buczek said. “Other than that, they were great. They managed our offense really well. I thought our defense played as well as they could.”

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With a seven lead, Maryland was trying to hold on while tiring after a quick turnaround from Saturday. The terps finished with a season-high 22 turnovers and botched five clears, but the cushion was enough to avoid too much tension in the closing minutes.

Cornell’s John Piatelli struck with 35.3 seconds left to cut the Big Reds deficit to two, but the Terps won the ensuing faceoff and Bubba Fairman, who was five years older, clocked out to start the celebration.

“We expected it to be tough and obviously built up a little cushion and stuck to it,” Tillman said. “I’m not sure what would have happened if there had been another quarter.”

Maryland would certainly rather not consider the possibility of things ending like they did last year, when they suffered an agonizing 17-16 loss. That setback spurred the Terps to take a matter-of-fact approach to every game this season, and their milestones were celebrated with muted celebrations — until Monday, when gleeful players created the confetti version of Snow Angels after last buzzer.

A team that plowed through most of the season without many serious challenges sparked discussion about its place in history. It’s an impossible debate to settle given rule changes like the advent of the shot clock and advancements in equipment.

But one thing is for sure: Maryland’s 1973, 1975, and 2017 NCAA title trophies have some company.

“Whether people want to say we’re the best team ever, we’re national champions,” DeMaio said. “And that’s all that matters.”

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