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Maryland-Virginia Lacrosse: Terps dominate second half, down Virginia 9-6

#4 Maryland returned home after back to back road games and notched a critical ACC win with a great 2nd half performance to improve to 8-1, and 3-1 in the ACC.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

After losing their first game of the season last Saturday to North Carolina, the onus was on the Terps to bounce back with a win in a key ACC clash with Virginia. Maryland did just that and came away with a crucial 9-6 win to help all but book a spot in the ACC Tournament and for momentum down the stretch.

There was a big line-up change to start the game from John Tillman as Connor Cannizzaro moved from 1st Line mid to attack, Henry West would take his spot in the 1st line mid role, and Jay Carlson did not start. Virginia were in their Orange Jerseys/White Shorts and Maryland wore Grey Jerseys with American flag sleeves and Grey Shorts as part of the Wounded Warrior Project. Raffa won the opening FO for the Terps and took it right down and shot but it was blocked and the Terps claimed the GB. Maryland peppered Barrett early with two shots from Joe LoCascio but both were saved. The Terps would quickly force a TO however and earned another possession. Maryland would turn it over quickly themselves however after West couldn't corral a Cannizzaro pass. Virginia tested Amato for the first time at around the 10 minute mark and Amato made a key save after a tough week last Saturday. Maryland attacked quickly but turned it over again before UVA gived it right back, as both teams struggled with possessing the ball early on. Maryland struck first with 6:25 left as Cannizzaro gave a beautiful inside feed to Bryan Cole who finished with a quick stick. Virginia responded with 5:30 left as Zed Williams buried a laser of a shot. Maryland held a lengthy possession but Cannizzaro had it taken away after a wrap around attempt. Both teams were struggling with their shots and they were a combined 2-10. Maryland again failed to pick up the long range shot and Tucker buried it to put UVA up 2-1. After an Amato save from a Williams shot, Maryland turned it over for the 8th time in 9 possessions, not fixing the issues from the Carolina game. The first quarter came to an end with Virginia up 2-1, with Maryland again ridiculously sloppy on offense.

Maryland opened the 2Q with the ball, but Chanenchuk ran himself into trouble and Maryland turned it over yet again after a stick check from UVA. UVA scored with 12:15 remaining as Maryland again struggled to rotate the long range effort and Emery buried it to make it 3-1. The Cavs earned an EMO with 12 minutes left as LoCascio gave a late slash to LaPierre who was on the floor fighting for the GB but Maryland killed it off. The TO's and sloppiness was killing the Terps as they went over 10 minutes without getting a shot on cage. UMD took a TO with 10:06 left in left as Maryland was all over the place on both ends of the field. Maryland finally managed to get a shot on cage with 9 minutes left in the half but Barrett was up to the task. Virginia earned a free possession after a UMD penalty and German scored on the wrap around to make it 4-1. Maryland look to be in position to respond but Rambo dropped an easy pass and Maryland committed another penalty giving UVA a free possession. Maryland handled the free possession for the Cavs and killed off the penalty. The Terps took their 2nd TO of the half with 6:33 left looking to re-group after an awful start. At that point, Maryland had been 15:11 without a goal and only 1 shot. The Terps were out of sorts, turning it over, and playing poor lacrosse. Henry West answered the call with 5:58 left, dodging and scoring low. Maryland took the FO before a wild sequence which saw Raffa turn it over, Murray win it back after a yard sale check, and then Murray throwing it away.

Maryland looked to have turned the corner after that West goal. They forced a poor shot on UVA's next possession, and West scored another beauty with a high wrister. That momentum dissipated as UVA took the FO and scored off a fastbreak through James Pannell to answer right back. Maryland would mix it up on the defensive end, showing some zone and Amato made a key save with under 2 minutes left in the half. Maryland nearly answered late in the half as LoCascio got a good shot on cage but Barrett made a big save. The Cavs would take the 5-3 lead to the half.

The lone silver lining for Maryland would have been the fact they couldn't have played much worse at all in that first half, and were only down 2 goals. Raffa's impact at the X was neutralized by a very smart decision from UVA to put a long pole out there. Raffa still won numerous FO's but wasn't able to create any transition opportunities. Maryland was hardly rotating or sliding at all onto the long range shots from Virginia and that was a key issue in the 1st Quarter and early 2nd.

The big issue though was undoubtedly the turnovers. Turnovers plagued Maryland last week and they were even a bigger issue today. Throwaways, dropped passes, running themselves into bad areas, it was putrid. They cleaned up and improved later in the half but it was still an all-around awful half.

Raffa won the opening FO in the second half, and Connor Cannizzaro forced a fantastic save out of Barrett. Cannizzaro got his revenge though, with a fantastic stutter step and low shot to beat Barrett and cut the lead to 1. Maryland would score again soon after, as Mike Chanenchuk found himself matched up with a short sick and shot high to high to tie it at 5. After a flurry of stick checks and potential GB's, UVA threw it away and Matt Rambo just shot low. Connor Cannizzaro made it 3 in a row, with his patented wrap around and Maryland had the 6-5 lead. Maryland looked far more energized to start the 2nd, winning GB's and individual match-ups and it paid off with Henry West getting his hat-trick with a stepdown laser and the Terps were up 7-5. Van Arsdale got a big goal for UVA after a great feed from Williams to cut the lead to 1 after a 15:40 drought. Maryland had a great opportunity with 1:08 left as Cannizzaro gave Cole a beautiful feed and Cole was in alone but he couldn't corral it. Maryland played fantastic defense for the final minute of the half and took a 7-6 lead to the 4th.

The Terps were rewarded with what color commentator Paul Carcattera called "the rewards of clean lacrosse". After 13 turnovers in the first half, Maryland turned it over just once in the 2nd and the offense had much more of a rhythm, and they played a far better 3rd Quarter, outscoring UVA 4-1.

UMD controlled possession to start the 4th, but couldn't get a shot off and LoCascio got checked. Maryland took it right back after a UVA throwaway and Chanenchuk nearly took advantage of the short stick match-up, but his shot went just wide. A timer on was called on Maryland and Chanenchuk shot from a tight angle to wipe it off. There was confusion after, as Rambo won a big GB and was pushed while Maryland screamed for a TO. Maryland called for a TO before Rambo was pushed, but the refs called the push before and gave UMD the TO after. The Terps would then go to a 30 second Man Up. The Terps cashed in with a low laser from LoCascio to restore the 2 goal lead.

Raffa's adjustments to start the 2nd Half were paying off, as he was able to get Maryland into the offensive zone quicker. Maryland had two good chances in tight to extend the lead but Barrett was up to the task. After a fantastic check from a UVA Dman, UVA appeared to have won the GB, but Chanenchuk won it back and UMD started to milk some clock. Chanenchuk committed an unforced error however, and the Cavs had it back with under 7 left. Time continued to tick away and a timer on was called against Virginia. Cockerton worked inside and got a nifty shot off but Amato made another big save to preserve the 2 goal lead. Matt Rambo ended a long goalscoring drought with 3:36 left after a beautiful, patient possession from Maryland and #15 buried it top corner to push the lead to 3.

After more great goaltending by Amato and some great groundball play, symbols of UMD's second half performance, Maryland ran out the clock to beat Virginia 9-6.

With their backs against the wall, and after a rough second half, and really 3 bad quarters of lacrosse following from the 4Q of the UNC game, the "baby Terps" answered the call. They played a clean, efficient, and dominant all-around game. Raffa made some adjustments and was more effective AFTER winning the FO. Far less TO's and that led to a more in rhythm offense and there were new contributors. Mike Chanenchuk and Matt Rambo combined for 2 goals. Connor Cannizzaro and Henry West? 5.

This was a huge win for Maryland for momentum, confidence, and a spot in the ACC Tournament. Maryland is now 3-1 in the ACC, 1st in the conference. Barring some freakish scenario, they're in.

Robert Morris is up next on Tuesday, a midweek test to make sure the Terps stay sharp. Then it's a 10 day break before the big one, Johns Hopkins. Notre Dame is on April 19th, a game that likely will be for the #1 seed in the ACCT.

This was a big game for the Terps, and they answered the call. Momentum has been renewed for the stretch run this season.