“Enjoy the moment, get after it, respect the game” wise and impactful words from official Matt Palumb before today’s game. One thing’s for sure, the Maryland players took those words to heart as they played a complete lacrosse game and enjoyed (almost) every moment of it in front of more than 22,000 fans.
The Terps came into this game as 6.5-7.5 goal favorites, trying to put a cap on their perfect 17-0 season and winning the National Championship that alluded them in 2021. Outstanding goalie play from Logan McNaney (71%) carried the team throughout the game, bailing the defense out on several occasions. Anthony DeMaio led the offense with 4G/1A while Luke Wierman’s 65% at the dot kept Cornell from ever gaining to much momentum. The Maryland lacrosse program has struggled to climb the Memorial Day hump on multiple occasions, but today was a new day for the Terps.
They may have gotten off to a slow start but if this game had an extra ten minutes I would’ve put my money on the Big Red. With both their goalie and face-off units below 50% they relied on an impressive ride and gritty groundball play through out. Gavin Adler led the team with 7GB’s and 2 CT’s. The “best” attack unit in lacrosse struggled after the first quarter forcing the midfield to produce offensively.
Right away we noticed the absence of Roman Puglise on the first d-mid pairing, with increased roles for Bubba Fairman, Alex Smith, and Jake Higgins. Even with a faint presence of Puglise the Maryland defense smothering early on. Cornell came with a strategy of inverting d-mids with no success. Halfway through the quarter and Cornell was proving that the moment wasn’t too big.
Finally at the 7:28 mark CJ Kirst strikes first with a somewhat unassuming goal to give the Big Red the lead. At 5:47 Malever tied it up on an excellent cut from x. McNaney had several timely saves, bailing the Maryland defense routinely. One of those saves resulted directly in an Anthony DeMaio goal to give the Terps their first lead with 3:21 to go. DeMaio then caught a skip pass and shot around two defenders from range making it 3-1 Maryland. With 98 seconds to go we had our first glimpse of the daunting Maryland EMO unit, 26 seconds later DeMaio would hit his third of the game off of dizzying ball movement inside.
End of Q1: Maryland leads 4-1
A Cornell mistake (offside) leads to a juice goal as DeMaio finds Pryzbilski trailing down the middle for the pole goal.
Kirst stops the bleeding with a fantastic rollback lefty to beat McNaney far side. DeMaio then caught a skip pass for yet another lefty rip to counter Kirst. The No.1 PLL draft pick Logan Wisnauskas buried one near side and extended the lead to 5 to close out the second quarter.
End of Q2: Maryland Leads 7-2
Wisnauskas scored at 12:37 to open the second half. Jonathan Donville, the former Cornell captain and No.1 overall NLL pick, had a beautiful inside finish to advance the lead to seven.
Aidan Blake would then score off of an off-ball cut to the crease to bring Cornell within 6.
End of Q3: Maryland Leads 9-3
Cornell would strike first on a goal from Michael Long, but Luke Wierman did an excellent job at the dot making sure that the Big Red weren’t able to pair goals together. Seven minutes in and Maryland was starting to look tired, making several mistakes and creating opportunities for Cornell. Those mistakes turned directly into back-to-back goals for Kelleher and Wirtheim and brought the game to 9-6.
For three minutes we saw frantic play with offsides, failed clears, and poor passes ending with a Cornell timeout (which essentially bailed out Maryland giving them a much needed break). With 35 seconds to go Piatelli hit his first goal of the day off of a well executed pick play, 9-7 Maryland. Wierman did his thing and won his final face-off to secure the win and the undefeated lacrosse season for the Maryland Terrapins.
#2 Bubba Fairman: 2GB, 1CT
#16 Anthony DeMaio: 4G, 1A, 3GB
#30 Logan McNaney: 17 saves, 71%
#36 Ajax Zappitello: 5GB, 1CT
#52 Luke Wierman: 65%, 5GB
#15 CJ Kirst: 2G, 1A
#27 Hugh Kelleher: 1G, 1GB, 2CT
#77 Gavin Adler: 7GB, 2CT