Things were going pretty good in Terp Nation just a few days ago, but women’s lacrosse fell to Northwestern 8-7 in the NCAA finals Sunday and men’s lax lost 9-7 to Virginia in their national championship game, turning one of the most exciting weekends for Maryland lacrosse in recent memory into one of the most disappointing ones.
For the men it ends an amazing season in which senior Ryan Young led the team to an ACC tournament title just one week after his mother Maria passed away from pancreatic cancer, and a season where an overtime win against the top team in the nation allowed 17 seniors to finally get a taste of championship weekend.
For the women, it ends a repeat campaign that seemed destined for success. In fact, Cathy Reese’s crew had a good shot at going undefeated before losing their best player, Karri Ellen Johnson, to a concussion. Instead, they are now forced to once again bow down to the Wildcats, who had won five straight titles before the Terps finally dethroned them a year ago.
The men were trying to end the program’s 36-year national championship drought and become the first team without a first team All-American to win the NCAA tournament. They also would have been the first unseeded team to win it all.
Unlike the semifinal game against Duke, Maryland drew first blood against Virginia with a Grant Catalino goal assisted by sophomore John Haus less than three minutes in. The Terps led 1-0 after the first quarter and redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato was on fire with five saves.
Amato struggled in the second quarter however, allowing five goals with just one save. Virginia led 5-3 at the half and although a 3-0 Terps run tied the game at 6-6, Maryland never regained the lead.
When the Cavs’ Colin Briggs scored his fifth goal of the game with 1:50 left in regulation it gave Virginia a 9-6 lead and the game was all but over. The Terps would have needed a miracle and they didn’t get one.
To me this was a much less intimidating Virginia team than the one that earned the #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and was Maryland’s kryptonite last year. This year’s team had a rough stretch to end the regular season and two of their best players, Shamel and Rhamel Bratton, were in and out all year with suspensions for violations of team rules. Neither Bratton twin played in the national championship game versus the Terps. In addition, the Cavs were 1-3 against ACC opponents coming into today, while the Terps were an impressive 5-2, so it’s hard not to feel like Maryland let one get away here.
After helping put together the Terps’ best season in over a decade, key senior contributors Grant Catalino (A), Ryan Young (A), Travis Reed (A), Brian Farrell (D), Dan Burns (M), Max Schmidt (D), Ryder Bohlander (D) and Brett Schmidt (D) will not be back. They all had great careers and were a part of incredible runs through the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament this year.
Drew Snider (M), Joe Cummings (M/A) and Jake Bernhardt (M) will all be back, but just for one more year.
Key offensive weapons John Haus and Owen Blye, along with face-off man Curtis Holmes and goalie Niko Amato will be the future of the program.