East Hartford, CT – The Maryland Terrapin’s men’s lacrosse team (17-0) put together yet another strong performance in a historically dominant season.
The consensus top-ranked Terps defeated the No. 5 Princeton Tigers (11-5) 13-8 after a three-hour rain delay that pushed the afternoon contest to a 6:20 start time. The rain stoppage was of no consequence to the Terps, who rode a career-high 19 saves from goalie Logan McNaney to their second straight national championship game in East Hartford.
The game was more of the same for those who have followed the undefeated Terps all season. Maryland, who has only trailed for 35 minutes all season, got out to a 2-1 lead and never looked back. Grad transfer attacker Keegan Kahn scored the first three goals of the contest for an early hat trick as the Terps secured a 5-1 lead at the end of the first frame. “I really just wanted to come out and play as hard as I could,” Kahn said after the game. “Our offensive flow at the start was awesome. Princeton as a really great defense so we knew we needed to be sharp right out of the gate and I was just in good spots and took advantage of it.” McNaney starred as well, saving six shots while allowing just one score. “I speak for every goalie when I say getting that first save of the quarter or half is huge for goalies,” McNaney said. “Once you get that first save it gives you the confidence to get the next one.”
The first goal of the second quarter for the Terps was extra special as it was fifth-year attacker, and Tewaaraton finalist Logan Wisnauskas’ 200th career goal. He is only the sixth player in Division I men’s lacrosse history to cross the milestone. Princeton began to close the gap as the second quarter wound down. The Tigers bagged two straight goals to trim the deficit to 7-4. One of those two goals was aided by a three-minute unrelease-able penalty on Terps defender John Geppert due to a hit to the head.
The Terps had to weather the storm early in the third quarter. Princeton had two more man-up opportunities, but thanks to a fantastic defensive showing, and great hustle by defender Ajax Zappitello on a run-out, Maryland was able to prevent the Tigers from cutting deeper into the lead. Wisnauskas scored on the following possession to bring the lead back to four (8-4). This was the beginning of a 4-0 run for the Terps which featured two goals from sophomore Owen Murphy in seven seconds, forcing Princeton to call timeout. The Tigers weren’t done yet, countering with two goals of their own to put the score at 11-6 with 4:02 remaining in the third. McNaney stood tall again in goal, with three tough saves in the final minutes of the frame.
The final period of play saw only two goals scored by each side. Maryland made the hustle plays necessary to close out the game, with a key example coming with 10 minutes remaining as defensive midfielder Jake Higgins beat out numerous Tiger defenders to secure a ground ball. Soon after, defender Brett Maker was injured on a hit to the face drawing a penalty. Wisnauskas capitalized to put the Terps up 12-6. Princeton scored a goal with 5:41 left on the clock. The Tigers lost the faceoff, but soon forced a turnover and gained possession again. A potential comeback was brewing, however, Princeton made an unforced error via an offsides call, dooming their season and sending Maryland to the National Championship game.
With the win, Maryland will face No. 6 Cornell (14-4) in the championship game. Last season, the Terps advanced to the title game where they fell to Virginia 17-16 in an all-time classic. The national title will be decided on Monday at 1 pm. The game will be nationally broadcasted on ESPN.
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