FOXBOROUGH, Mass. ——— Monday's NCAA tournament final will be an all-Maryland affair.
The Maryland men's lacrosse team punched its ticket to the national title game with a 16-10 thumping of No. 3 seed Duke on Saturday evening before an announced 31,774 at Gillette Stadium.
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Foxborough, MA, USA
Monday's title game will feature two teams from Maryland for the first time since 1979 when Johns Hopkins defeated the Terps, 15-9. Loyola will play for its first championship since 1990 when it lost to Syracuse, 21-9. Maryland, which won NCAA crowns in 1973 and 1975, fell to Virginia, 9-7, last year.
For the second straight year, Maryland — which improved to 12-5 — beat the Blue Devils in the national semifinal round. Almost a year ago, the Terps defeated Duke, 9-4, at M&T Bank Stadium.
Junior midfielder Kevin Cooper paced Maryland with one goal and four assists. Senior midfielder Drew Snider scored four times — his third hat trick in three NCAA tournament games this spring, and senior attackman Joe Cummings added one goal and three assists.
Shooting efficiency was a huge factor in the Terps' victory. They scored four goals on five shots in the second quarter and 16 goals on just 29 shots for the contest.
“I just think we were finding each other in good spots on the field,” said Snider, who has scored 10 goals in the tournament. “We all felt really comfortable with our offensive game plan. I thought we were very organized.”
Coach John Tillman said the players have the green light to shoot with the caveat that they have to make smart decisions and also consider whether they might be putting the defense at risk if that unit had to defend a long possession.
“If you feel like you have an opportunity, go,” Tillman said. “We can't win if guys are worried about me yanking them or yelling at them. So I think players need to play, and we give them good guidance all week.”
The Terps, who also earned a berth in the tournament final in 1997, never trailed against the Blue Devils, who never got closer than one goal with 27.5 seconds left in the first quarter.
After Maryland scored the first two goals of the third quarter to take a 9-4 advantage, Duke went on a 4-1 run to trim the deficit to 10-8 with 13:34 left in the fourth period. But the Terps scored six straight goals to cement the outcome.
Duke (15-5) was led by senior midfielder Justin Turri, who posted two goals and one assist. But Wolf, who entered the game leading the team in both assists (31) and points (63), was limited to two assists by freshman defenseman Goran Murray. Wolf had not scored a goal against Maryland in the teams' previous two meetings this season.
Blue Devils coach John Danowski said he sensed a wave of confidence from the Terps bench that his team couldn't match.
“I thought they were much more confident than we were,” he said. “I thought that it was very different, and we know that. Maryland kids are tough and rugged young men and very confident. And I thought our guys backed down a little bit at times and were not as confident as they've been. But again, [that's] perhaps due to how well Maryland was playing.”