You know what they say: lacrosse, the game of runs.
Er, uh, maybe not. I assume not, actually. But Maryland's last-minute, 10-9 rollercoaster of a victory at 7th-seed Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA Tournament certainly fit that bill. The two teams traded long scoring streaks, but it was the Terrapins who found three unanswered goals late in the game - including the game-winner from Joe Cummings with only seven seconds left - to nip the Mountain Hawks in a thriller.
The win sets up a tantalizing date with Johns Hopkins in the second round on Saturday in Annapolis. Hopkins impressively disposed of Stony Brook easily earlier in the day, 19-9, but Maryland topped them in Baltimore when the two met in the regular season. So: definitely a GameThread for that one, right?
Back to tonight: after the two traded goals to open the action, Maryland went on a hot streak, putting in five consecutive goals and taking a commanding 6-1 lead. Midway through the second quarter, though, their fortunes reversed, and Lehigh was able to grab three before the break to cut the deficit to only 6-4 at half. Things would only get worse from there, as Lehigh found another four right out of the gates, clawing back with seven straight to take a 8-6 lead. Maryland was thoroughly dominated in the third stanza, going scoreless in an entire quarter for just the second time all season.
But the Terps didn't rattle, perhaps a result of their experience from last year's title game run compared to Lehigh, which was playing in its first NCAA Tournament appearance. Maryland found three fourth-quarter goals - two coming from senior Drew Snider - to set up Cummings' game-winner in the final minute, beating Lehigh's sensational freshman goalie Matt Poillon at the far post. Lehigh owed much to Poillon, who made several extraordinary saves and kept the Mountain Hawks in the game with a virtuoso performance.
The game felt almost a microcosm of Maryland's season, an inconsistent effort that showcased both talent and frustration. Beating Hopkins is always a tall order, but if any team can get a full game of a focused Maryland at their best, it's them, as the earlier matchup showed. Sadly, that's about as far as I can go in lacrosse analysis; I leave the rest up to the pros, like the good folks at College Crosse. Go there for actual, y'know, thought, and such.