Maryland, UVA to Meet Again After Terps Rout Vermont


Luke Wierman won 16 of 19 faceoffs in Maryland's 21-5 win over Vermont in an NCAA tournament first-round game Sunday.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland men’s lacrosse coach John Tillman annually makes little secret of his concern about the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament since it coincides with finals.

He need not have worried Sunday.

It remains to be seen how the tests and papers went for the top-seeded Terrapins, but they aced their on-field exam with a 21-5 rout of Vermont before 2,672 at Maryland Stadium.

Luke Wierman won 16 of 19 faceoffs and Logan Wisnauskas scored four times and reached 50 goals for the season in the process as the Terps (15-0) won for the 32nd time in their last 33 games.

“This has traditionally been a tough, tough weekend for us,” Tillman said. “The guys did a great job. Obviously, Luke winning as many faceoffs as he did and flipping the field allowed us to overcome some things because we had five turnovers in the first quarter.”

That was about the only thing that went wrong for Maryland, which advanced to a titanic quarterfinal showdown with defending NCAA champion Virginia (12-3) in next Sunday’s quarterfinals in Columbus, Ohio.

The teams are ever-so-slightly familiar with each other. It was the Cavaliers who erased a five-goal deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation in the 2019 quarterfinals, eventually earning a 13-12 win in overtime on the way to a national title. It remains Maryland’s only loss in nine quarterfinal trips under Tillman.

And, of course, there was also last year’s rollicking national title game, a 17-16 Virginia victory that spoiled Maryland’s run at the program’s first perfect season since 1973. The teams met again at a neutral site in Washington in March, with the Terps doling out a 23-12 bludgeoning by beating Virginia at its own up-tempo game.

“It’s exciting and a pretty familiar opponent,” Maryland defenseman Matt Rahill said. “We both know each other pretty well and they’re a great team. I think a lot of people kind of forgot how good they actually are, so we definitely can’t take them lightly and we won’t take them lightly.”

The Terps haven’t made a habit of doing that to anyone, with impressive results. The Catamounts (12-7), who entered with a 10-game winning streak and lost 17-11 at Maryland in last year’s first round, figured they would switch things up and present a zone to open the game.

Wisnauskas deposited Maryland’s first shot past veteran goalie Ryan Cornell (12 saves). Eric Malever fired the Terps’ second shot into the net. And with that, Vermont abandoned the zone.

For the rest of the first quarter, the Catamounts hung around. But the Terps unloaded eight goals of a 9-0 run to start the second, and before long it was 11-1.

“We transitioned into man-to-man, and I think that helped us apply a little bit more ball pressure so they weren’t able to get what they wanted,” Vermont coach Chris Feifs said. “They did a really good job toward the end of the second quarter of responding and pouring it on us when we weren’t really winning faceoffs.”

The second half was spent entirely in choose-your-own-score territory for Maryland, which opted to post some impressive numbers as 12 players scored and 15 goals were assisted on the afternoon.

The 21 goals were the Terps’ most in an NCAA tournament game since a 22-11 defeat of Navy in the 1976 semifinals. The margin of victory was Maryland’s largest ever in the postseason, outpacing a 16-4 blowout of Brown in the 1973 quarterfinals.

The 16-goal margin is tied for the sixth-largest in NCAA tournament history and is the biggest blowout since Syracuse pounded Canisius 20-3 in the first round of the 2008 event.

It was a harsh ending for Vermont, which started the year 2-6 but regrouped once it delved into America East play. The Catamounts earned conference tournament hosting rights for the first time this season, and their 15-3 defeat of Manhattan in Wednesday’s play-in round was the program’s first NCAA tournament victory.

They just had no answers for Maryland, especially with the Terps limiting midfielder Thomas McConvey — a 60-goal scorer and the America East’s offensive player of the year — to just an assist on 0-for-8 shooting.

David Closterman had a goal and an assist for Vermont, whose only back-to-back goals came at the start of the fourth quarter to narrow the gap to 18-5.

“Even though we lost today, I’m just really proud of my team of getting ourselves back to this moment and giving it our best,” Feifs said. “We have nothing to hang our heads about.”

As for Maryland, Virginia is once again an obstruction for a late-May celebration. The Cavaliers dominated the second half of Saturday’s 17-10 victory at eighth-seeded Brown, and appear to once again be nearing their peak at the perfect time.

In essence, a far more rigorous test awaits the Terps next week.

“Everybody knows this is the defending national champions, and they’re champions until you beat them,” Tillman said. “We have to show in the playoffs that we can do that, so we need to kind of have an underdog mentality because they are the guys that have the crown and you have to take it from them.”


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