No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse held a two-goal lead against No. 1 Virginia with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Virginia redshirt junior attackman Connor Shellenberger and graduate midfielder Thomas McConvey quickly erased the Terps lead, though, tying the game at 13.
Then, senior Luke Wierman won a crucial faceoff, stampeded down the field and flung the ball into the back of the net. But Wierman’s celebratory raised fist was slowly lowered as the officials waived off the goal — head coach John Tillman had called a timeout moments prior.
This could have easily been the end for Maryland’s hopes. The Terps were on the doorstep of taking down the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and were just told the go-ahead goal does not count.
But Maryland kept fighting.
Now in overtime, freshman goalie Brian Ruppel made three acrobatic game-saving stops in the cage to keep the Terps alive and regain possession. As Maryland trekked down the field, junior attackman Daniel Kelly found an opening in Virginia’s defense and took advantage.
Kelly rifled the ball into the back of the net and completed the upset, re-establishing Maryland, the reigning national champion, as the team to beat with a 14-13 win over Virginia on Saturday.
“I kind of joked with [Kelly], ‘thanks for bailing me out,’” Tillman said. “You make that decision and sometimes you don’t need it, but you’re just playing it safe. So, it is what it is, like I said, I appreciate those guys saving my butt.”
Virginia graduate midfielder Petey LaSalla won the opening faceoff, but each team turned the ball over on their first possessions.
After Maryland called its first timeout of the game, junior attackman Daniel Kelly went to work. Kelly gathered a pass from senior midfielder Kyle Long and bounced the ball past Virginia sophomore goalie Matthew Nunes for the opening score.
LaSalla won the second faceoff of the game, but another turnover led to an early two-goal deficit for the Cavaliers.
Maryland stayed hot on the offensive end, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 in the first six minutes. Redshirt senior midfielder Jack Brennan subbed onto the field and made an immediate impact. Brennan collected the ball behind the cage, darted left, planted his foot, spun right and flung the ball into the back of the net.
Virginia put an end to the Terps’ scoring run with 7:08 remaining in the first quarter, as McConvey whipped the ball past Ruppel.
Ruppel and the rest of Maryland’s defense hunkered down for the rest of the first quarter and neither team scored.
Despite Wierman winning five of the first seven faceoffs, the second quarter did not treat the Terps well, as Virginia scored five unanswered goals. Virginia senior attackman Payton Cormier was responsible for two of them, instantly shooting the ball once it touched his stick, and McConvey tallied his second goal of the game to cap off the run and make it 6-3 Cavaliers.
Sophomore attackman Eric Spanos revived the Terps offense with 2:41 remaining in the first half, jumping up and firing the ball at Nunes to cut into the deficit.
Each goalie recorded their sixth save of the game before the quarter came to an end with Maryland trailing by two.
The Terps entered the second half with a new sense of aggression, as junior midfielder Jack Koras scored his first goal of the game in just 32 seconds.
Cormier responded with his third goal of the game, but Maryland’s offense could not be stopped. Freshman attackman Braden Erksa scored back-to-back goals in the beginning of the third quarter. Erksa spun past redshirt senior defender Cade Saustad for the first, and then fought through multiple swinging sticks for the second.
Virginia briefly regained the lead, but a 3-0 run to end the third quarter gave the Terps the lead heading into the fourth.
Maryland and Virginia traded goals throughout the fourth quarter, but the Cavaliers were able to send the game into overtime after scoring two unanswered.
The Terps were able to pull this one out in overtime, though, defeating Virginia, 14-13.
Three things to know
1. Cormier did not miss a beat. Virginia’s star attackman was on fire against the Terps, despite missing the last two games with a lower-body injury. Cormier finished the game with three goals and a .600 shooting percentage, but it was not enough to overcome a dominant second-half performance from Maryland.
2. The Terps defense stepped up. The key to beating Virginia is halting its offense and three All-American attackmen. The Cavaliers were held to seven goals below their season average and had a .283 shooting percentage, .128 below their season average. While Cormier had a great game, Shellenberger and redshirt senior Xander Dickson each shot 1-for-7.
3. Maryland is still the team to beat. Despite winning the national championship last year, the Terps were ranked as the No. 2 team in the country heading into the 2023 season, with Virginia holding the top spot. Maryland has lost two games thus far and fell to No. 9 in Inside Lacrosse’s Media Poll, but have since re-entered the top five. After this impressive 14-13 win over the Cavaliers, though, there may be a new team in the No. 1 spot.