Maryland’s last two NCAA Tournament appearances were cut short by a lively Virginia squad.
This season was a different story. The Terps were able to exact revenge and they showed no mercy while doing so, defeating Virginia in the quarterfinal round, 18-9.
This marked Maryland’s second defeat over the Cavaliers this season. Both wins were by significant margins with Maryland scoring 20 more points total in the two combined matchups
“We’re really proud of our guys,” head coach John Tillman said. “Of how they prepared, staring down at the defending national champions,”
Virginia, though, came out of the gate strong, controlling most of the possession for the first four minutes. It capped off its efforts with a Griffin Schutz wraparound goal.
The Cavaliers came out with a different defensive scheme than they usually run, playing zone defense. At first, the scheme saw success. However, as the game wore on, as the case has been all year, the Terps found ways to counter.
“We talked a lot about the zone,” Tillman said. “We didn’t know how they’d play it, but we practiced it all week … we’ve seen it in a lot of games, and the sell to our guys was like, listen, if they run it, we’ve seen it in games more than they’ve played it in games.”
Maryland soon answered back, ending the quarter with four straight goals – three of which came from midfielder Anthony DeMaio, marking the 55th straight game where a Terp recorded a hat trick.
“As the game went on, I thought [Maryland] got more comfortable,” Tillman said.
Soon, the Terps imposed their will on both ends. Defensively, Logan McNaney was a brick wall, saving five of the six shots on target in the first quarter. And by that point, Maryland’s defense had gone six straight quarters in which it held its opponent to under two goals.
After Virginia shortened the lead to two at the start of the second quarte, a left-wing strike from Daniel Maltz gave Maryland the energy needed to continue to pull away from their opponent like they had done all season.
That was the first of five goals in the quarter, all scored by different players. As the first half came to a close, the Terps led, 9-4.
Maryland’s lead only grew from there.
Eventually, the Terps had reached the common point in their games where their opponent was utterly overpowered. The phase of the contest where it seemed like nothing could go wrong for Maryland.
The team’s speed and ball movement was too much for Virginia to handle. Six of the first seven goals of the half were scored by Maryland, including three by Wisnauskas, whose 39th hat trick passed Jared Bernhardt for the most in Terp history.
By that point, the Cavaliers, down by 10 points, were hopeless to catch up. Both teams exchanged goals, but the result was already decided.
Finally, the clock hit zero to make it official: for the first time since 2018, Virginia would not be national champions — ensuring Maryland a palpable opportunity to finish the first 18-game undefeated season in NCAA lacrosse history.
“We’re trying to reach our end goal, and that’s win the national championship,” defender Ajax Zappitello said. “So … I don’t think we can look at it and not be fired up. We get to go out and we get another week together.”