It was only the third time Maryland lacrosse trailed 1-0 this season and after 7:32 of scoreless action, Cornell had found the net first. “Be the Best’ trailed for a total of 40:01 minutes in an 18 hour season. They led for every second in every fourth quarter.
The Terps defense gave up 7.25 goals per game during the four-game tournament, and 7.83 dating back six games. Adjusting for the shot clock, it’s one of the best defensive tournaments ever.
Maryland held Cornell scoreless for a span of 22:15 minutes crossing from the second to the third quarter.
Cornell held the Terps without a goal for the final 26:55 minutes. It was the first time all year Maryland was held to single digits in a lacrosse game. Fatigue became an equalizer. 22 turnovers was atypical. Maryland has never played an “A” level game on short rest.
Goalie Logan McNaney was 73% in the semifinals and 71% in the finals, supported by a defense that kept opponents away from the middle and out of the paint. After surrendering a soft initial goal, the baby-faced lefty bounced back while showcasing his adept ball handling on clears. As his team hit the wall, Logan stood tall.
In his final college game, Logan Wisnauskas racked up four points on two goals and two assists. He became the first Terp to record 100 points in a single season, breaking the record of 99 set by Jared Bernhardt in 2021.
Anthony DeMaio led the Terps with a season-high four goals, his fifth hat-trick in his last six games, all in the postseason. “Tony Time” will always mean clutch.
Cornell pressed out at X, and Kyle Long threw three assists to the weak side, lob passes, and skips that resulted in time and room, feet set daggers.
The 9-2 lead shrank slowly. Momentum shifted. Suddenly Maryland looked gassed. Two games in three days plus the fact that the Terps hadn’t seen deep waters put their perfect season in peril. Hugh Kelleher made it 9-5. Spencer Wirtheim raced untouched through the tired Terp defense and suddenly it was 9-6. John Piatelli closed the gap to 9-7 with :35 to go. Too little, too late.
Shorties Bubba Fairman, Jake Higgins, and Alex Smith sealed the deal. A defense is only as good as it’s weakest link. On Memorial Day, this group had no weaknesses. They dug in late, clearly exhausted and running on empty.
Roman Puglise played with one arm. Banged up and vulnerable, Maryland held the Big Red to 7 goals. Matt Rahill limited John Piatelli, which was huge. Rahill silenced my doubts, credit to him. Brett Makar blanketed CJ Kirst. Ajax Zappitello neutralized Michael Long. The highly productive Cornell attack was seeing red. The six defensive pieces slid intelligently. Bad slides create offense. I didn’t see any poor slides to non threats. They recovered cleanly, inside and out. They funneled shooters to the wings, trusting McNaney. Defensive coordinator Jesse Bernhardt’s expertise and work was on full display. Even when the clearing fell apart (the midfielders didn’t support the ball aggressively), they refused to buckle.
All year long Maryland was advertised as an offensive juggernaut. When the confetti landed, and the nets were cut down, it was the defense that made the difference.
The Terps are the first team in NCAA lacrosse history to go 18-0 in a season. Owen Prybylski scored the Terps’ 10th pole goal of the season. They got 33 goals from non-offensive personnel. They attacked opponents in all phases. They owned restarts, faceoffs, and the substitution phase. If an opponent offered them a crack or window of opportunity, they exploited it. The Terps set an NCAA record for most assists in a season (205) with nine on Monday.
There were many reasons to fear the turtle.
Where does the 2022 Maryland team fit in history? After the dog pile, let the debate begin.
I’ll let it marinate and dissect the data and personnel later this summer after the rings are ordered. Without question, their season merits comparison with 1976 Cornell, 1984 Johns Hopkins, 1991 North Carolina, 1990 Syracuse, 1997 Princeton, and 2006 Virginia.
They flashed uncommon excellence in February, destroyed Virginia in March, cruised through the Big Ten slate in April, and put opponents on lockdown in May. They demonstrated remarkable consistency in this era of social media distractions.
Congratulations to Maryland, best lacrosse team in school history for sure. A season for the ages. 18-0 forever.