ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Death, taxes, and John Tillman leading Maryland men’s lacrosse to the Final Four.
The No. 1-seeded Terps used a six-goal second-half spurt to turn a close game into a rout Sunday, crushing Cornell 13-8. It’s Maryland’s fifth straight Final Four appearance and seventh in eight years under Tillman.
For the Terps, the story on offense was multiple strong performances from underclassmen. Freshman Bubba Fairman led the way with three goals and two assists, finishing with a career-high five points. Redshirt freshman Logan Wisnauskas chipped in two goals and two assists, and sophomore Jared Bernhardt added four points of his own with three goals and an assist. Wisnauskas is now up to 47 points this season, which is the most by a Maryland freshman since 2000.
On the other end of the field, Maryland opted to take Cornell All-American attackman Jeff Teat out of the game. Jack Welding shadowed him on set offensive sets, Bryce Young picked him up when he ventured behind the cage. and Adam DiMillo shadowed him on man-down defense. Teat finished with just two assists, and the few times he tried to drive, he attempted to body past Terrapin defenders instead of using his speed and dodging.
Maryland’s faceoff specialists were dominant as well, which helped limit what was the best offense in the country according to Lacrosse Analytics. Justin Shockey and Austin Henningsen combined to win 15 of 24 faceoffs, with Shockey going 13-of-19.
Both teams took their time in the first quarter, which meant a lot of long possessions and not a lot of great shots on goal. Maryland and Cornell combined for 16 shots over the first 15 minutes, but only Bernhardt scored.
The floodgates opened in the second period, as the two teams combined for nine goals. Maryland added two early in the period to push the lead to three, and Cornell finally showed signs of life after the Terps’ third goal. Thomas O’Connell was crushed trying to start a clear, and Clarke Petterson scored in transition to get the Big Red on the board. Mike Adler responded with his first career goal off the faceoff, and Cooper Telesco answered back for Cornell on the following possession.
Following four minutes without a goal, Maryland scored two more to push the lead to two, with Anthony DeMaio scoring right in front of the goal, and Connor Kelly sending a rifle past Christian Knight. The Terps had dominated the faceoff dot up to that point, and won eight of 12 faceoffs. Cornell finally won a few near the end of the quarter, and added two goals to cut Maryland’s lead to 6-4 heading into halftime.
The Terps won four of five faceoffs in the third quarter, and as a result built their biggest lead in a game in almost two months. Wisnauskas pushed the lead back to three after Maryland killed a penalty to start the quarter, and Shockey won four faceoffs after that, all of which resulted in goals.
Cornell scored four straight goals in the fourth quarter to cut the Terps’ lead to four, but Bernhardt responded with a transition goal with 5:39 left to put the game away.
Maryland is headed back to Foxborough, Massachusetts, where they won the national championship last year, and will play the winner of Johns Hopkins-Duke on Saturday.
Three things to know
- Maryland is back in the Final Four. The only year the Terps haven’t made the Final Four under John Tillman, they didn’t play in the quarterfinals. Now, they get a chance to head back to Gillette Stadium, where they snapped a 42-year title drought last year.
- The underclassmen stepped up. As teams have focused more on Connor Kelly, Maryland’s underclassmen have continued to step up. Freshmen and sophomores combined for 10 goals and six assists Sunday, and Fairman and Wisnauskas continued to show growth as facilitators on offense. Shockey had a great day as well, turning in his best performance at the faceoff dot since the start of the Big Ten play.
- The Jeff Teat shutdown worked. Welding followed Teat from Cornell’s first offensive possession, and a Maryland defender was draped all over him for the rest of the game. The sophomore took just one shot all game.