Terps makes history in NCAA championship win over Cornell
For more than 50 years, Memorial Day has been sacred to lacrosse fans. While the rest of the country goes to pools and barbecues, lacrosse fans are celebrating by flocking to stadiums. If you’re lucky, you get a perfect weather day, a crowded stadium and a great game. For the Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse team and their followers, they also hoped this Memorial Day would bring history with it.
In front of 22,184 fans at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, the Terps ended their road to history with a 9-7 victory over seventh-seeded Cornell, winning their fourth national title of the modern era. and becoming the first undefeated national champion. since Virginia in 2006. Not that the Terps made it pretty or easy.
The teams felt very early. Cornell looked to attack on offense, hoping to eat away at Maryland’s depth in defensive midfield. The Terps appeared to be playing fast, firing shots early in the shot clock.
Cornell scored first on a hallway dodge by CJ Kirst that somehow creaked between Logan McNaney’s legs (17 saves, 70.8%).
The Terps (18-0) finally broke through with 5:47 left in the first quarter. Jack Brennan (1a) carried the ball down the right wing and spotted Eric Malever (1g, 1a) sneaking around the crease. Malever beat Chayse Ierlan (9 saves, 50%) with a shot to the far post. Luke Wierman (13-20, 8GB) won the faceoff and the Terps got back to business. Logan Wisnauskas (2g, 2y) played back and forth with Anthony DeMaio (4g, 1y), who finished with a man draped over his back. “Tony Time” would hit again 50 seconds later. This time Kyle Long (3a) reversed behind goal, extended the goal line and popped a diagonal pass to DeMaio. DeMaio landed a low shot from 15 yards.
WEEEEEE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!! pic.twitter.com/VApEOkzeDd
– Maryland Lacrosse (@TerpsMLax) May 30, 2022
After a save from McNaney, Bubba Fairman fired a cross-check penalty to send the Terps on the extra man. Daniel Maltz (1a) picked up an inside pass and immediately kicked the ball to the low wing. DeMaio covered a high shot past Ierlan. The Terps would take a 4-1 lead heading into the second quarter.
Cornell took possession of the ball on a miss but went offside. With an immediate restart, Long scooped the ball up and ran into Cornell’s defensive zone. He transferred the ball to DeMaio, who found a lone Owen Prybylski (1g, 1gb) in the middle of the Cornell defense. Prybylski, who transferred to Maryland from Villanova for times like this, landed a bouncing shot past Ierlan for his first goal as a Terp and gave the Terps a 5-1 lead.
Kirst picked one up for Cornell, shooting around Brett Makar.
The Big Red had another chance in midfield, but McNaney saved a rebound shot from Kirst – his eighth save in the first 20 minutes of the game. After a missed shot from Terrapin, the defense forced their second shot clock violation. McNaney then made another save and Alex Smith cleared the ball. Long started an alley dodge down the right side and threw a cross pass to DeMaio. DeMaio covered a low-to-high shot to give the Terps a 6-2 lead.
The Terp defense staged a clinic for the final 12 minutes of halftime, repeatedly driving Cornell deep into the shot clock and forcing bad shots. Their work translates to the offensive end.
Long ducked back into the correct alley again. He again threw through his body and the ground to find a discolored Wisnauskas. Wisnauskas sent a laser off the hip past Ierlan to give Terps a 7-2 lead before halftime. McNaney recorded 10 saves in the half, and although Wierman only won 5-11 matchups, the defense choked Cornell’s offense.
Thirty minutes, a hot day in Connecticut, and a frustrated but determined Cornell team stood between the Terps and history. The Terps started the second half with another defensive position. McNaney made another close save and the Terps put the ball in their offensive zone. Malever found Wisnauskas coming off a Maltz screen, and Wisnauskas covered a shot.
Wierman won the next showdown and the Terps got back to business. DeMaio beat his man near the sideline and got a power play. He moved the ball to Wisnauskas, who found a cutting Donville in the crease. Donville finished with a twisted shot and the Terps took a 9-2 lead with just three minutes left in the third quarter.
Cornell began pressing the attack. John Piatelli entered the game leading the country with 65 goals. Matt Rahill gave him little to no wiggle room. Piatelli forced shots which McNaney easily saved. The Big Red finally ended a 22:15 dry spell with Piatelli feeding Aiden Blake for a goal at 4:34 of the third quarter. The teams would fight to a standstill for the rest of the quarter, and the Terps headed to the last frame ahead 9-3.
Cornell’s Michael Long scored on a dodge to put the Big Red within 9-4 early in the fourth quarter. They then got two more, one from Hugh Kelleher and one from Spencer Wirtheim, to make it 9-6. The Terps offense seemed to run out of steam and they racked up turnovers. With 6:20 remaining in the game, the Terps committed their 18e turnover.
McNaney made his 15e stoppage of play, but the Terps could not clear the ball. The defense again had to take position five minutes from the end of the game. McNaney made another save, but Cornell popped in a 10-man and the Terps failed another clear.
Brett Makar forced a turnover from Cornell, and with Cornell again in a 10-man run, Matt Rahill attempted an open field shot which Cornell Adler backed. Cornell called a 9-6 timeout with 3:48 remaining in the game and with the ball in their offensive end. Cornell’s defense had the Terps on a scoreless drought lasting over 24 minutes.
Out of this dead time, Piatelli sank into the crease and launched himself towards the goal. He scored but the refs called him off for the stoppage. Even after the Terps cleared the ball, they returned it again. McNaney made his 17e save game, and the Terps cleared the ball. With 1:20 remaining in the game, the Terps desperately played away. Long missed a shot, and the Terps decided to exit the game on the back of his defense.
Piatelli finally scored a goal from a set game 35 seconds from time.
In a fitting end to the season, Wierman won the final showdown and the Terps ran out of time. Last year, he had saved his last shot. This year, he secured victory. In the win, Logan McNaney made 17 saves – earning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award – and the defense, long overshadowed by a prolific offense, carried the Terps into immortality. 18 wins, no losses and the best of all time.