Adversity came early and often for the Maryland Terrapins men’s lacrosse team on Saturday evening.
The Terps fell behind early to Cornell and trailed 5-1 at the half. But Maryland continued to battle as they have all year long.
With the game tied at 7 in the final minute, there was a ground ball that midfielder Mike Chanenchuk managed to wrestle away from the Big Red group of players. With just nine seconds left, Henry West took the ball into the paint and tossed a diagonal pass across to Chanenchuk, who potted the game-winning tally with just two seconds remaining to give the Terps a 8-7 win.
Maryland only lead for the final two seconds of the contest. It was the first time since April 22, 2011 that the Terps trailed by four goals and won. That came against North Carolina when they trailed 6-2 and ended up winning 7-6.
“I just felt like the first quarter, we played so rushed,” Maryland coach John Tillman said after the game. “We looked like a new/young team, which we are. But we turned the ball and we took bad shots. Then we calmed down a little bit.”
Despite the slow start, attackman Matt Rambo had a hat trick for the Terps on nine shots, which was second highest on the team. It was also the first time since 2000 that a Maryland freshman had three goals in their first NCAA tournament game. Mike Mollot had three goals and four assists in a tournament-opening 14-12 win over Hofstra
The slow start was completely evident and didn’t help the Terps against a tough team like the Big Red.
Cornell midfielder Connor Buczek scored in the slot just 41 seconds into the game after midfielder Doug Tesoriero beat Charlie Raffa at the X to begin the game.
After that opening possession from the Big Red, both Christian Knight and Niko Amato made several key saves on a rash of scoring chances for both teams. It wasn’t too much of a surprise since Amato was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and Knight was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Knight had 13 saves while Amato finished eight stops in net.
After trailing 5-1 at halftime, Maryland suddenly woke up. The Terps went on a 3-0 scoring run to cut the deficit to 5-4. Attackman Jay Carlson, Rambo, and attackman Connor Cannizzaro tallied goals to bring Maryland back into this game in the first eight minutes of the third quarter.
Cornell’s John Hogan did answer the Terps run with a pretty goal in the slot with 7:13 left in the third quarter.
With 11:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, Maryland was 13 seconds into a man-up advantage and Rambo took a pass from Cannizzaro and ripped a low shot past Knight. Rambo’s goal made it a one-goal game after both teams were scoreless for over 10 minutes, stretching back into the third quarter.
With 10:17 left, defender Goran Murray played a little too aggressive and was beat by Matt Donovan. Maryland slid to defend Donovan, who found a wide-open Dan Lintner for the easy goal to the right of the cage.
Just one minute later, Rambo took matters into his own hands. He grabbed a rebound off a Knight save and took it around the other side of the cage for the unassisted goal to cut the Cornell lead to 7-6.
Just a minute after that, Cannizzaro provided more freshman flavor for the Terps. He used a screen beautifully and rolled to the side of the cage and bounced his shot in to tie the game at seven. Maryland scored two goals in the span of just 1:05.
One of the key plays was late in the game when Lintner found himself wide-open in front of the cage and appeared to have a goal. However, defender Matt Dunn was able to knock the ball out of Lintner’s stick and give possession to Maryland, eventually resulting in Chanenchuk’s game-winner.
This was the first NCAA tournament game for Maryland that went down to the final seconds since the Terps knocked off Lehigh in the opening round in 2012. That game was capped off by a Joe Cummings goal with six seconds left to give unseeded Maryland the upset victory in Bethlehem.
Maryland will face the winner of the Bryant/Syracuse game, which is being played at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday night. The Terps beat the Orange 16-8 at the Carrier Dome back on Feb. 22.