With 6:03 remaining in the second quarter against No. 2 Virginia, senior defenseman Brett Makar found himself in a position on the field that he isn’t too familiar with.
From prime shooting position, Makar ripped a shot past Virginia’s freshman goalie Matthew Nunes for his first career goal. When Virginia subsequently called timeout to try and slow Maryland’s momentum, the 6-foot-1 defenseman flexed his arms and was mobbed by his teammates in celebration.
Makar, who has started every game since he arrived in College Park in 2019, had finally broken through and scored a goal of his own to help lift his team to a major victory in the regular season.
“When [defensemen like Brett Makar] score, it’s definitely a big [lift],” fifth-year attacker Anthony DeMaio said. “It gets everyone going, everyone definitely feels confident. Everyone’s super excited for those guys when they get that done.”
No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse improved to 7-0 on the 2022 season with a signature 23-12 win over No. 2 Virginia at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Virginia, the team that beat Maryland in last year’s national championship game, suffered its first loss and dropped to 6-1.
This is the Terps’ fifth win over a ranked opponent this season. Maryland will begin the conference portion of its schedule next Sunday with a road trip to take on Big Ten foe Penn State.
Just eight seconds into the game against Virginia, graduate attacker Keegan Khan kicked off the scoring after faceoff specialist Luke Wierman won the opening faceoff and found the attacker for the game’s first goal.
Maryland doubled its lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the first quarter. Sophomore attacker Owen Murphy, standing behind the goal, dished to sophomore midfielder Jack Koras to make it 2-0.
The first goal for Virginia came from graduate attacker Matt Moore, who scooped a ground ball and took advantage of a broken play by beating junior goalie Logan McNaney with 5:24 left in the opening quarter.
Khan struck again a minute and a half later with an unassisted goal, but fewer than 60 seconds later redshirt sophomore attacker Connor Shellenberger cut the Maryland lead to 3-2.
The Terps extended their lead to 5-2 with two goals in quick succession. Graduate midfielder Jonathan Donville scored after an assist from fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas with 1:03 left in the first quarter, and eight seconds later Murphy scored.
Maryland had an opportunity to hold the ball and take the first quarter’s last shot, but freshman goalie Matthew Nunes made a save with 25 seconds left and Moore scored on the other end for Virginia to make it 5-3 Maryland after the first quarter.
Wierman won seven-of-nine faceoffs in the opening period and ended up winning 24-of-36 faceoffs throughout the whole game.
“Luke Wierman, he showed us today that he’s improved tremendously as he’s grown older… what a dominant performance he put out there today,” Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany said.
The second quarter started with a flurry of goals. Fifth-year midfielder Anthony DeMaio scored 40 seconds in to make it 6-3, and Shellenberger answered for Virginia shortly after. Sophomore attacker Eric Malever then got on the board before redshirt junior attacker Xander Dickson cut the lead to 7-5. Then, goals from Wisnauskas and Donville extended the Maryland lead to 9-5 with nine minutes left in the first half.
Murphy then scored his second goal of the game to make it 11-5 with 4:25 remaining in the second quarter.
Dickson also got his second goal of the game for the Cavaliers, but Wisnauskas fired a rocket into the top left corner with 1:44 left in the half to make it an impressive 12-6 Maryland lead headed into halftime.
In the first half, Maryland had 20 shots on goal compared to 11 from Virginia. McNaney had five saves and Nunes came away with eight.
The second half started with a goal from Virginia’s freshman attacker Griffin Schutz, assisted by senior midfielder Jeff Conner. Maryland, like they did all game, answered, this time with a 3-0 run. Murphy collected a rebound and fired a shot into the back of the net to seal his hat trick, and then after DeMaio scored his second goal of the game, Khan scored his third to push the score to 15-7.
“Our scout team did a great job of pressuring us all week,” head coach John Tillman said of Maryland’s ability to navigate the Cavaliers’ pressure. “You can never mimic it, but I think the guys got the message.”
Virginia went on a run of its own with back-to-back goals from junior attacker Payton Cormier and Moore. The final 4:37 of the third quarter was scoreless as Maryland led 15-9 entering the final 15 minutes of play.
Cormier ended the scoring drought with 13:03 left in the fourth quarter, sneaking a shot past McNaney to cut the Terps’ lead to five. Shellenberger then made it 15-11, but graduate midfielder Roman Puglise ended Virginia’s 4-0 run with a bounce shot that beat Nunes.
Graduate defenseman Matt Rahill then scored a highlight-reel goal from beyond midfield, firing at an open net to make it 17-11. Khan tallied his fourth goal of the game with under eight minutes to go after an assist from DeMaio, his third assist of the day.
After a Virginia goal came from sophomore attacker Patrick McIntosh, the Terps rattled off five straight goals. Malever, Puglise, Donville and Wisnauskas scored, and then junior attacker Daniel Maltz got on the scoresheet to bring the score to 23-12 with two minutes left to close out the nation’s No. 2 team.
“There is no question who the number one team in the country is right now,” Tiffany said postgame. “John Tillman, his staff [and] his team proved it from the opening whistle throughout the four quarters.”
Three things to know
1. Battle of the No. 1s. Both Maryland and Virginia’s top offensive threats wear No. 1 on their jerseys, and they both played well on Saturday. Shellenberger had five points on three goals and two assists. Wisnauskas had the same exact stat line en route to another solid performance. That being said, Wisnauskas was able to let the rest of his team work the offense much more than Shellenberger. It seemed at times that Virginia wasn’t able to get anything going without Shellenberger touching the ball, and the Terps’ defense keyed in on him all game long.
2. Hat tricks galore. Four different Maryland players scored hat tricks on Saturday. Khan had four goals, and Wisnauskas, Donville and Murphy had three. When four players are as dominant as these four were, it’s almost impossible to stop a team’s offense. The equal distribution of Maryland’s goal scoring has been a staple of this team so far and seemed to bother Virginia’s defense all game long.
“I think it’s a credit to our unselfishness,” DeMaio said. “Everyone on our offense, we all just play together.”
3. Big picture. This win over Virginia was a statement to the lacrosse world that Maryland should be heralded as the top team in the country. While rankings don’t mean much before the NCAA Tournament seeding is announced, the Terps have now put some distance between them and Virginia and will likely be unanimously ranked No. 1 in next week’s polls. Virginia isn’t going anywhere, however, and a matchup with the Cavaliers later in the season is still a strong possibility.
“It’s easier to learn from a loss than it is from a win, but this [was] a really, really bad loss for us and we’re forced to learn from this one,” Virginia’s Moore said.