At home in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, Maryland men’s lacrosse showed why they were the top ranked team in yet another victory that was not remotely close, defeating Vermont 21-5.
All season, the Terps have been in a league of their own, outscoring their opponents by nearly nine points a game.
That level of dominance did not change when the NCAA Tournament arrived. The 16-point victory was the largest tournament win in the team’s history — a margin so lopsided that it even shocked head coach John Tillman.
“I was surprised,” Tillman said. “You know, [Vermont] had been hot.”
Like routine at this point, the Terps came out the gate comfortable and firing. Not even a minute passed before the Terps scored their first goal thanks to a Logan Wisnauskas shot from the goalie’s left wing. A minute later, Eric Malever snuck the ball past the goalie’s right side to expand the lead to two.
The teams then exchanged blows, but following a Vermont time out, the defenses ran the game. Both teams were held scoreless for the last nine minutes of the quarter.
But when the second quarter began, things quickly got ugly for the visitors.
Ten goals were scored in the quarter, nine of which came from Maryland – including one from defenseman Ajax Zappitello, who launched his first career goal from 10 yards out through the legs of the goaltender. After not recording a point in his first 12 games, he has now done so in three consecutive matches.
“Poles get goals,” defender Matt Rahill said. “That’s awesome. It’s a huge play. I’m happy for Ajax.”
Maryland led at halftime, 12-2. It helped that the squad’s shots on goal nearly tripled that of Vermont’s (19-7). Additionally, FOGO Luke Wierman was practically unbeatable at the faceoff X in the first half, winning 13 and only giving up three. He went on to win his next three faceoffs in the second half before the blowout allowed him to check out of the game early.
The third quarter was more of the same level of dominance. The Terps continued to rack up goals while keeping Vermont from seeing much offensive success.
Just like the Catamounts had been in the first two quarters, they again were held to a singular goal for the third quarter. After 45 minutes, Maryland led, 18-3.
This marked the 10th consecutive game where Maryland scored at least 16 goals.
There still was 15 minutes left, but the outcome was obvious. The fourth quarter gave bench players time to play, which allowed junior attacker Ryan Siracusa to score his first career goal from five yards out.
Although Siracusa hadn’t seen much playing time, Tillman was proud of the growth he had shown throughout the years in practice.
“He gives our guys fits,” Tillman said. “So through all that hard work, he’s earned a lot of respect, and there was a lot of excitement for everybody to see him score that goal.”
With a minute left, midfielder Gabe Goforth threw down his second goal of the year, number 21 for the Terps, sealing shut the largest NCAA Tournament victory among any team since 2008. In addition, this was Maryland’s first 20-goal tournament game in 46 years.
“[This is] certainly the best Maryland team that I’ve seen,” Vermont coach Chris Feifs said after his team’s defeat.
The Terps – still perfect – continue their quest to avenge their NCAA Championship defeat in 2021. Their next match is against Virginia, the team that ended their perfect season a year ago.
“I think everybody knows, obviously, this is the defending national champions,” Tillman said. “They’re champions until you beat them.”