No. 1-seed Maryland men’s lacrosse advances to Final Four with dominant 18-9 win over Virginia

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2022 rendition of Maryland men’s lacrosse has become notorious for starting fast. But, in the most consequential game of the season to this point, the Terps came out in a more methodical manner.

Virginia’s Griffin Schutz scored the game’s first goal fewer than four minutes in, and it took until the 7:39 mark of the first quarter before Maryland broke through. After the longest scoreless start to a game the Terps have had all year, fifth-year attacker Anthony DeMaio ended the drought with two goals in less than two minutes to thrust his team ahead of the Cavaliers.

Then, graduate midfielder Jonathan Donville scored, preceding DeMaio’s third goal of the first quarter with 1:33 on the clock. DeMaio, who is the only player on Maryland’s roster that was on the 2017 national championship team, has scored a hat trick in all four of the Terps’ postseason games in 2022.

“Trying to change it up, keep the goalie guessing. That’s been the biggest change, “DeMaio said of his superb play in the Terps’ recent contests. “We have six guys out there all working for one goal … it can be anyone at any time.”

After jumping out to a lead midway through the first quarter, top-seeded Maryland men’s lacrosse never looked back and defeated Virginia, 18-9.

Almost a year after Maryland watched Virginia rush the field in celebration in a thrilling 2021 national championship game, it was the Terps who sent the Cavaliers packing, avenging last year’s defeat to head to their second consecutive Final Four and 28th in program history.

“We’ve been fortunate the last two full seasons in [2019] and [2021] to finish our season holding up the national championship trophy, so it’s hard to not have the Final Four be a part of the Virginia lacrosse season, “said Cavaliers head coach Lars Tiffany. “But, there’s a reason it’s ending. It’s because we just faced, in my opinion, the best team in the last 16 years. “

Just as was the case in the first quarter, Virginia scored the second quarter’s first goal, which was followed by consecutive Maryland goals. Senior midfielder Jeff Conner found the back of the net – his first of two second-quarter goals – but Maryland junior attackers Daniel Maltz and Donville followed suit to extend Maryland’s lead to four.

After Conner’s second goal, junior midfielder Jack Brennan whipped a pass to a well-positioned Eric Malever, and the sophomore attacker finished the play with the Terps’ seventh goal of the afternoon.

Senior midfielder Kyle Long and sophomore attacker Owen Murphy scored two goals in a span of just six seconds, with Murphy’s goal coming courtesy of an assist by junior faceoff specialist Luke Wierman.

Wierman won 10-of-15 faceoffs in the first half, including an astounding 8-of-9 in the second quarter.

“We had great communication throughout the game … a lot of older guys, a lot of expreince and that was really helpful for adjusting to what they’re doing and making changes,” Wierman said.

Junior attacker Payton Cormier scored the last goal of the first half for Virginia, but it was only enough to cut Maryland’s lead to 9-4 at the break.

Despite Maryland’s solid first half, a familiar face was missing from the goals column of the scoresheet. Fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas, the program’s all-time leading scorer, had two assists but went goalless in the game’s first two quarters. However, his time came in the third quarter.

Wisnauskas fired in two goals in the first 4:30 of the third quarter and found his third later in the period. Sunday’s performance was the 39th hat trick of his career, passing Jared Bernhardt for the most all-time by a Terp. He has just three goals shy of Bernhardt’s Maryland career goals record as well.

“You wouldn’t know if he had four goals or four turnovers,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said of Wisnauskas’ demeanor at halftime. “Eventually he’ll get his opportunities and usually when he does he’s pretty locked in.”

Graduate midfielder Roman Puglise scored in the third quarter as well, in addition to two more goals by Murphy. Puglise and Maltz’s goals were their respective 10th’s of the season, bringing Maryland’s team total to 11 players with double-digit goals.

Virginia added two more goals before the third quarter ended, but Maryland led by seven at the end of the third, a comfortable cushion to coast to victory.

Graduate attacker Keegan Khan managed to score after weaving through a traffic of Virginia defenders, beating Virginia freshman goalie Matthew Nunes. Owen Murphy then added his fourth goal of the game, bringing the score to 17-8 in favor of Maryland.

Sophomore attacker Daniel Kelly put the exclamation point on Maryland’s win, fielding a long pass from sophomore defenseman Ajax Zappitello and finishing for the Terps’ 18th goal of the day.

That mark of 18 goals is one more than the 17 that the Terps allowed in the 2021 national championship game to Virginia, falling short in heartbreaking fashion in the final moments of the game.

This time, however, it was Maryland that emerged victorious, setting up a matchup with Princeton in the national semifinals on Saturday, May 28. The Terps beat the Tigers, 15-10, on Feb. 26.

Three things to know

1. Next stop: East Hartford. Maryland is on its way to its 28th Final Four and its ninth under head coach John Tillman in just 12 years at the helm of the program (including 2020, when there was no NCAA tournament). For the second straight season, Maryland heads to Championship Weekend with a chance to become college lacrosse’s first undefeated champion since Virginia did so in 2006. The national semifinals and championship game will be hosted at the same site as last year – Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Terps will have their eyes on the ultimate prize, but in order to play for a national title, they’ll need to go through a strong Princeton squad that played them tough in late February.

2. Virginia’s stars were silenced. The headliners of the Cavaliers’ offense struggled to have any success on Sunday. Sophomore attacker Connor Shellenberger, nicknamed “Mr. May ”because of his elite play in the postseason, had only five shots and no points while being guarded by Zappitello. Additionally, graduate attacker Matt Moore – Virginia’s all-time leading scorer – went one-of-eight shooting and didn’t score until the 5:42 mark of the third quarter. He was often defended by senior defenseman Brett Makar, who showed why he was a First Team All-American selection with his play against the Cavaliers. Junior goalie Logan McNaney also made twelve saves.

“The scout [team] gave us a great look all week, ”Zappitello said. “[We] just [played] team defense. We have such a supportive group with a lot of veterans on the team, [and] It makes it really easy to lean on that experience when things aren’t necessarily going our way. “

3. Round three belongs to the Terps. Maryland had been eliminated by Virginia in each of the last two NCAA tournaments, and the Cavaliers’ 17-16 win over the Terps in the 2021 national championship stuck with this season’s returning players as motivation all year long. Now, Maryland can finally celebrate as it advances to the Final Four, while Virginia will have to regroup and move on to 2023. The job is not finished for the Terps, but this year’s quarterfinal win is sure to feel that much sweeter because of who their opponent was.

“I think it just motivates the whole team,” Wierman said. “A bunch of guys came back this year, and just how that season ended with all that we sacrificed and what we went through, I think every day we get motivated by that game.”

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