In a game that meant so much to both teams, the Irish came out on top, moving onto the ACC Tournament Final, and sealing up a spot in the NCAA Tournament with a 6-5 win over the Terps. When you put two teams together who have defined tough defense, great goaltending, and gritty play over the last few years in college lacrosse, this is what you get. Trench warfare. And Notre Dame was just a bit better and got the victory.
Maryland: White Jerseys/Black Shorts
Notre Dame: Blue Jerseys/White Shorts
Raffa won the opening FO for the Terps, before Ehrhardt threw it away after Cannizzaro couldn't corral a pass. Maryland forced a TO after a strong ride, and after a patient possession that drew a timer on, Cannizzaro lost his footing and the Irish went on offense. The Irish drew a Extra Man Opportunity (EMO) on their possession but Maryland successfully killed it, with ND keeping possession.
Maryland's next possession drew another timer on, and Heacock quickly shot, but it was saved by Kelly in the ND cage. Both offenses were struggling holding onto the ball and drawing opportunities, but the Terps were forcing pressure on the ND clears.
Maryland nearly caught on the board early after a scramble in front of the net, but Kelly made the save.
The opening goal finally came with 2:10 left, with Tim Rotanz leaning in and finishing far side to put Maryland up 1-0. Raffa won the game's 2nd FO but quickly turned it over. Maryland forced trouble on the clear for the Irish again, and drew a TO. Maryland continued the patient approach, and after drawing a 3rd timer on, a cross check was called on Notre Dame. The Terps still attacked, and Rambo rattled a quick stick off the crossbar. The call was 1 minute non releasable, and UMD started the 2nd on the EMO.
The Terps turned it over quickly, burning the EMO, and ND held to go back to the 6-on-6 set, but John Tillman called TO to re-set his D. Notre Dame got multiple shots off, but couldn't test Amato with their first 3, shooting high on all of them. Kavanagh leaned in and got a shot on cage, but unbeknownst to himself, Niko made the save. Isaiah Davis-Allen did a very good job outrunning the clear and quickly after Rambo outran a pick and ripped a laser past Kelly from at least 12 yards out to put Maryland up 2-0.
Raffa made it 3/3 at the X and passed it back to Ehrhardt but Maryland turned it over again after the win. The Terps got the ball back quickly after a CT by Cooper. After some very patient offense, Joe LoCascio outran a pick similar to Rambo, and shot a rocket past Kelly to make it 3-0.
Maryland's defense continued to stifle the Irish, with Amato making a few more very solid saves. The Terps next possession was lengthy, but without real penetration as they put it on the turf 3 times. The 4th time was one too many, and Notre Dame pushed and found Westie Hopkins who beat Amato to get the Irish on the board.
Matt Rambo appeared to get the Terps on the board with an attack to the crease with 4:35 left, but his left knee landed in the crease and it was waved off.
The most noteworthy news in the next few minutes of the half was Mike Chanenchuk rolling his ankle while in possession and going to the locker room.
The half ended with Maryland in the lead 3-1. The main stories of the half was Maryland's suffocating defense. Goran Murray locked down Matt Kavanagh and the Terps did a very good job behind the cage on Conor Doyle. Add in a dialed in Niko Amato and that was a recipe for success. Maryland's offense was extremely patient, but came up with big shots when needed, but everyone knew that would get more difficult if Mike Chanenchuk wasn't able to come out for the start of the 2nd Half.
Maryland forced an early TO man-down and Casey Ikeda ran in transition and shot, but he shot wildly and Kelly had the back-up for Notre Dame. The tempo picked up in the next few minutes, with both teams pressing in transition.
After another Amato save, the Terps pushed it forward quickly again before setting into their offensive set. After moving the ball around the perimeter, Cannizzaro attacked with an alley dodge and buried a shot into the top corner to make it 4-1.
Notre Dame answered with 8 and change late in a fast break. Scioscia finished inside with a quick stick and the lead was back down to 2. The Terps made a change on offense soon after, with Chanenchuk operating below the cage and Cannizzaro and Rambo initiating from the top.
Maryland's next possession came with just under 5 minutes left, and it was shortlived. Chanenchuk took a shot from a bit of a tough angle and sent it wide. Maryland appeared to be closest with Heacock, but the refs gave it to Notre Dame. The Irish cashed in with 3:17 left with Marlatt burying a bounce shot from well out to make it a 1 goal game.
The next few minutes was far quicker, with scurried play all over the place. There weren't many chances however, but Mike Chanenchuk had a big one, nearly scoring in transition but his shot hit the pipe. At the end of 3, Maryland lead Notre Dame 4-3, in a game that defined trench warfare.
The 4th started with Mike Chanenchuk getting a big GB to put Maryland on offense. After a scrambled play in which ND forced a turnover, the Irish countered and nearly scored through Marlatt. After a rebound, Murray hopped in cage and made a huge save to hold the lead. Ikeda got called for a crosscheck right after however, and ND went to the EMO. ND cashed in with under 20 seconds left, and tied the game at 4. Since the penalty was non-releasable, the Terps needed the FO win. Raffa won it but ran into a double. He would then pick up his own GB and John Tillman called time-out with Maryland in need of a goal.
After a patient possession, West was pushed in the crease after a shot, one of many odd non-calls that the refs gave to Notre Dame. The Irish went offside right after and the Terps went on offense again. Maryland drew an EMO quickly after, with O'Hara going to the box on a late hit. Maryland put together a tic-tac-toe passing play and Bryant finished in front to re-take the lead. After another phantom call, the refs had a few both ways all night, the Irish went on offense.
The Irish cashed in, with Doyle taking a run at Dunn from behind the cage and tying it at 5. After Kennedy jumped on the FO, Maryland held a patient offensive possession and after a scramble Cannizzaro nearly scored. Chanenchuk had a great trail check to re-gain possession but Maryland couldn't take advantage and Notre Dame went to work on offense with under 6:30 left.
Michael Ehrhardt forced a terrific TO in a one-on-one match-up with Kavanagh that gave Maryland the ball back with under 5 left. After a two minute plus possession, Kelly made some big saves and ND successfully cleared to go on offense. With the Irish likely to milk clock with 2:02 left, it was imperative that Maryland get a stop.
Notre Dame gave it away themselves with two throwaways. 1:40 left, Maryland ball. Cooper ran himself into trouble, but got his own GB, and John Tillman called TO, a big one, that gave Maryland the chance to win it with 1:16 left.
Maryland was far too slow on offense and had to rush it. It went out to Chanenchuk, who's bum ankle gave out on him. Notre Dame countered and Matt Kavanagh scored to give the Irish the 6-5 win.
The Terps offense noticeably stagnated in the second half with Chanenchuk not running the ball up top on midfield. They had a few opportunities but nothing really worked. The Irish made more plays in clutch time and got the win.
Notre Dame moves on to Sunday's Championship vs Syracuse, while Maryland plays next Saturday vs Navy, where they hope to get the offense cooking before the NCAA Tournament.