NCAA Championship game preview: No. 7-seed Maryland men’s lacrosse vs. No. 1-seed Notre Dame

ncaa championship game preview: no. 7-seed maryland men’s lacrosse vs. no. 1-seed notre dame

For the eighth time under head coach John Tillman, No. 7-seed Maryland men’s lacrosse will spend its Memorial Day fighting for a national championship.

However, the team that stands in its way — the No. 1-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish — has been college lacrosse’s apex predator all year long. The Terps are underdogs yet again, and will now look to complete their national title run.

“It’s pretty clear we’re the underdog,” Tillman said. “... We know the spot we’re in, we get it. The only thing we can do is control what we do. I know they’re really good, but I have great faith in our guys.”

The game will start at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and air on ESPN and broadcast on ESPN Radio.

What happened last time

Although it may feel like a lifetime ago for both teams, Maryland entered its first matchup against Notre Dame this season with an unblemished 4-0 record, while the Fighting Irish were coming off what turned out to be its only defeat all year against Georgetown.

On the road in South Bend, Indiana, the Terps struck first, courtesy of a rare Daniel Maltz alley dodge.

Notre Dame hit back, though, and a lot harder. Jake Taylor, who has amassed 39 goals this season, secured a hat trick before the first quarter was over. He consistently found gaps in the heart of Maryland’s defense, which was being forced into constant rotation.

The Fighting Irish’s star and Tewaaraton finalist Pat Kavanagh also beat Ajax Zappitello with a beautiful over-the-shoulder finish. The run put Notre Dame up, 4-1, and Maryland never fully recovered.

The Terps found some offense in the second quarter, scoring four times. This included two goals from Eric Malever and one apiece from Jack Koras and Ryan Siracusa. Despite its offense being known for ball movement, Maryland found early success through dodges.

However, the Terps couldn’t put the clamps on Notre Dame’s explosive offense, which kept coming up with answers. Midfielder Devon McLane manufactured two timely goals, as did Chris Kavanagh. Taylor also added his fourth goal on the stroke of halftime.

Notre Dame carried a 9-5 advantage into the break and only built on it to open the third quarter. Two-sport athlete Jordan Faison scored twice in a row, including an impressive behind-the-back shot.

The Terps embarked on one final run early in the fourth quarter, as Koras notched his second score before Eric Spanos banged in two in a row. This brought Notre Dame’s lead back to just three, but the Fighting Irish added three more to put the game out of reach, winning 14-9.

What’s happened since

A lot has happened since Maryland and Notre Dame first met this season. For the Fighting Irish, it’s been relatively simple — they haven’t lost since. In fact, they picked up three more impressive nonconference wins against Michigan, Ohio State and Cornell.

Cornell gave them their biggest scare. The Big Red held a 17-16 lead with under three minutes to go, but Chris Kavanagh opened the floodgates, tying the game before Ben Ramsey scored the game-winner with six seconds left on the clock.

Notre Dame proceeded to go undefeated in the ACC regular season and tournament with an average margin of victory more than 5.5 goals.

The dominant regular season positioned the Fighting Irish as the clear No. 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament field. In the first three games, they looked the part.

In the first round, they rolled past Albany at home, 14-9. In the quarterfinals, they went up early and never looked back, avenging their loss to Georgetown with a 16-11 win. In the Final Four, they were engaged in a hard-fought battle with Denver before eventually pulling away and winning comfortably, 13-6.

Maryland’s path to college lacrosse’s biggest game has been a lot more tumultuous. It had a shaky end to its nonconference slate, scraping out an overtime win against a winless Brown team and losing to Virginia at home.

The Terps then dropped their Big Ten opener to Michigan before rattling off three straight wins over Penn State, Ohio State and Rutgers. Then came Maryland’s worst stretch of the year, losing “The Rivalry” to Johns Hopkins and getting dominated by Penn State in its first game of the Big Ten Tournament, 19-9.

These results sent Maryland into the NCAA Tournament as a highly-doubted No. 7 seed. But the Terps proceeded to silence many, rattling off a dominant round-one win over Princeton, a comeback quarterfinal victory against Duke and an emphatic semifinal win over Virginia.

Three things to watch

1. Can Wierman improve? All-American faceoff specialist Luke Wierman has won 71.5% of faceoffs this postseason. This has allowed Maryland to dominate possession, play at its own pace and create some unsettled goals. Last time out against Notre Dame, Wierman had a rare subpar performance, winning just 12 of 25 faceoffs. His performance at the dot will be massively important if Maryland wants to pull off the upset.

2. McNaney vs. Entenmann. Goalie Liam Entenmann has helped make Notre Dame unstoppable this season. He is a Tewaaraton finalist and was called “the best goalie in the country, arguably” by Tillman on Saturday.

However, Maryland’s Logan McNaney has plenty of championship experience under his belt, as this will be his third national championship game appearance. With two of the best goalies in the country squaring off, this could very well be a low-scoring affair.

3. Maryland’s defense vs. Notre Dame’s offense. Maryland’s defense allowed 14 goals — tied for their second-highest total of the year — against the Fighting Irish in March. However, the other team that scored 14 goals against the Terps was Virginia, who was held to six in the Final Four. It was the Cavaliers’ lowest total ever under head coach Lars Tiffany.

Defensive coordinator Jesse Bernhardt and Tillman crafted masterful game plans against Duke and Virginia the last two weeks, and one more could secure Tillman his third national championship.

OTHER NEWS

3 hrs ago

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy 'getting fed up' with owner Jerry Jones: report

3 hrs ago

Who Should Steelers Hope Wins Training Camp QB Battle?

3 hrs ago

Goaltender's dad talks up the Oilers' chances of lifting the Stanley Cup

3 hrs ago

Phillies turn rare 1-3-5 triple play against Tigers, 1st since 1929

3 hrs ago

Discount Burger Check? Chiefs' Reid Shares Hilarious Commercial Story

3 hrs ago

'Devastating loss': Digital lending library, Internet Archive, removes 500,000 books after being sued by publishers

3 hrs ago

Iga Swiatek vs Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina: WTA ‘Big 4’ state of play ahead of Wimbledon

3 hrs ago

Would a Toronto byelection loss spell doom for Trudeau?

3 hrs ago

BlackSuit ransomware gang blamed for ongoing car dealership outages

3 hrs ago

'Unreal' injury-time equaliser saves football powerhouse

3 hrs ago

Nigel Farage accused of cosying up to the Kremlin by former NATO boss

3 hrs ago

Dagestan, in southern Russia, has a history of violence. Why does it keeps happening?

3 hrs ago

Marines revive a World War II airfield on Peleliu in Pacific pivot

3 hrs ago

Fortnite Brings Tilted Towers and Other Fan Favorite Locations, But With a Twist

3 hrs ago

Shadow of the Erdtree Puts the Cherry on Top of Elden Rings Main Strength

3 hrs ago

Anger erupts as Albo's governor-general is awarded payrise

3 hrs ago

Charo Makes Rare Public Appearance at Project Angel Food Event: 'Life Is Beautiful' (Exclusive)

3 hrs ago

Boozed-up England fans sing '10 German bombers' chant in Cologne

3 hrs ago

Show Respect: ‘Boys are surprised we talk about this, it’s become normalised’

3 hrs ago

After clash with prosecutor, judge reserves ruling on restricting Trump’s rhetoric about agents’ classified documents search

3 hrs ago

Peter Dutton’s nuclear plan ‘doesn’t deliver’ any ‘energy price decrease’ until 2040

3 hrs ago

Where to watch Netherlands vs. Austria live stream, TV channel, lineups, prediction for Euro 2024 match

3 hrs ago

China lunar probe to return to Earth with samples

3 hrs ago

Report: Knicks’ OG Anunoby declines player option, enters unrestricted free agency

3 hrs ago

Saints offensive line ranked 19th in the NFL

3 hrs ago

Senators acquire goaltender Linus Ullmark from Bruins

3 hrs ago

Why Qld feels like home for the Blues

3 hrs ago

Seahawks waive 3 undrafted free agents, make UFL champ signing official

3 hrs ago

Andrew Scott Frantically Runs to Hear Taylor Swift's ‘Style' at 'Eras Tour'

3 hrs ago

England’s Test series v New Zealand: Date, kick-off time and TV channel

3 hrs ago

Bills' McDermott Says Von Miller Has ‘Something to Prove’

3 hrs ago

US prosecutors want Boeing to face criminal charges

3 hrs ago

Finance Minister Michael McGrath set to become Ireland's new EU Commissioner

3 hrs ago

Red-hot Cardinals get huge boost in return of star catcher

3 hrs ago

How police use the mail to spy on you: 60,000 cases in last decade with little pushback

3 hrs ago

These 3 Republicans are Trump’s most likely VP picks

3 hrs ago

Roy Jones Jr. announces his son, DeAndre, died by suicide

3 hrs ago

Luxury Gyms, Like Equinox and Life Time, Are Taking Over Big Retail Spaces

3 hrs ago

Automobili Pininfarina PURA Vision wins prestigious Red Dot Award: Design Concept 2024

3 hrs ago

Pop legend Robbie Williams wears his AFL jersey to see if he still gets recognised in London - with some very surprising results