Maryland men’s lacrosse outlasts Princeton, 13-8, advances to play on Memorial Day

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Thunderstorms engulfed Connecticut all afternoon. And as a result, the preceding Final Four game was put on hold and the start of the Maryland vs. Princeton game was pushed back. 

The Terps left the area to regroup.

“It’s not the best when you’re getting ready to play,” goalie Logan McNaney said. “You’re kind of getting amped up a little bit, staying calm. But, once we heard that, we knew we had to deal with that situation better than Princeton.”

The team ate, got some rest, and four hours later than initially anticipated, they finally made it to the field.

What followed was a contest that was still a blowout by most team’s standards, but a closer game than what most Maryland games have been in 2022. A, 13-8, victory in the tournament’s penultimate match.

“Happy to be moving on,” head coach John Tillman said. “Not our best per say, but I think you’ve got to give Princeton a lot of credit for that.”

The Terps were the first team to get on the board thanks to a Keegan Khan over-the-shoulder strike. However, Princeton answered quickly, taking advantage of a Maryland slow transition. The defense couldn’t stop a four-on-three break, and after five minutes, the score was tied.

Khan went on to score the next two goals, securing a hat trick in under 10 minutes.

The sun began to finally peak through the overcast sky in the second quarter, and Princeton started to get some life back, scoring within a minute of the frame. However, attacker Logan Wisnauskas answered back not too long after by bouncing the ball over the goalie’s head for his 200th career goal.

After extending the lead to 6-2, Wisnauskas became one of only six players in NCAA history to pass the 200 goal milestone.

After another goal exchange, an illegal body check call on John Geppert meant that Princeton would be a man-up for the next three minutes. Princeton wasted no time taking advantage of it, and a Chris Brown turnaround right side strike shortened the lead to three. The Tigers staved off a lethal Maryland run but failed to make use of the extra-man situation. 

To end the half, Princeton decided not to shoot the ball, instead deciding to hold onto it in exchange for getting the ball to start the second half.

The decision seemed to confuse coach Tillman.

“I do feel like we got a little bit of a break when they had the ball with about 25 seconds and decided to hold it,” Tillman said. “You’re losing like a sixth of that three minutes.”

The Tigers didn’t score in the opening minute, meaning they only scored once during the three minutes the team was up a player. Once they got their player back, the Terps were again ready to attack.

In four minutes, the Terps scored four goals, including two by Owen Murphy in seven seconds. It was the quintessential Maryland third quarter where the team began wearing their opponent down, much like they had all season.

However, two late Princeton goals left the window of opportunity slightly open, but the Terps still had a five-point cushion. 

Ultimately, as the game came to a close, it was another comfortable victory for the Terps. But Wisnauskas sent in his third goal of the night for good measure thanks to a two-on-one break.

With that goal, Wisnauskas broke former teammate Jared Bernhardt’s record for the most goals in Maryland history.

Although, Wisnauskas didn’t seem to want to celebrate the accomplishment.

“When we broke the record, we had the ball, someone tried to give it to him and he didn’t take it,” Tillman said. “So I took it.”

Tillman made sure Wisnauskas had the ball after the game.

“He’s just so focused and dialed in and he’s not about individual accomplishments,” Tillman said. “And that’s what I love about him, but you kind of know 20 years down the road, there’ll be some things to be super proud of.”

With under a minute left, the Tigers sent in a garbage-time goal, and before long, the result was final. Maryland would return to the NCAA title game for the second straight year.

Princeton finished with more shots on goal, but the Tigers couldn’t get many through. McNaney finished with a career high 19 saves as the Terps have held each of their last four teams to under double-digits.

Maryland’s star goalie is 34-1 in his career, with the one loss coming in the 2021 NCAA Championship game. Now, the team is one win away from correcting last season’s loss, in the same stadium that they will play this year. The Terps are one win away from the first undefeated season in Division I Lacrosse since 2006.

Only Cornell stands in their way.