Maryland rediscovered itself Saturday, and Virginia is still searching.
Terps attackman Jay Carlson scored three goals, and the No. 5 Maryland men's lacrosse team — behind a dominating midfield that scored five times — held on for a 9-7 victory over No. 13 Virginia in front of an announced crowd of 5,226 at Klockner Stadium.
The Terps (7-1), who suffered a 10-8 upset loss to North Carolina on March 23, showed no side effects of that loss. Besides Carlson's three goals, offensive midfielders John Haus added two and Mike Chanenchuk had one.
But the surprise of the day was long-pole midfielder Jesse Bernhardt's two goals, which showed how the Terps controlled the pace of the game and how quickly goalkeeper Niko Amato got the ball out on clears. Amato finished with 14 saves in the victory.
"It all started with Niko in the cage," Bernhardt said. "We're known for our transition, but we haven't had many opportunities in the past couple of games. Any chance we got today, we were going to take them, and I hit a few and it energized our team."
That left Carlson with a short pole to defend him, and he hurt the Cavaliers (5-5). With the win and No. 1 Notre Dame's 12-10 loss to St. John's on Saturday, Maryland could again become the No. 1 team in various polls.
"This is definitely a good feeling coming off the loss," Carlson said. "We had a good week of practice. We worked hard and we know that any team can lose on any given day. Virginia had a big loss last week, so we knew it was going to be hard getting a win down here.
"We expected them to do what Carolina did against us because that was the blueprint on how to beat us. We worked on it all week and it worked out well for us. We meshed and were able to score some goals."
Carlson scored his third goal of the game in the fourth quarter to put Maryland ahead, 9-4, with 8:47 remaining.
Virginia, aided by sloppy ball-handling from the Terps, scored three goals — two on fast breaks — within a six-minute stretch to pull within 9-7 with 1:27 left. But Amato stopped a shot from Virginia midfielder Ryan Tucker with 45 seconds left to end the Cavaliers' rally attempt.
The Cavaliers' fourth straight loss puts them in a tough situation.
They still don't have a signature win this season, and games against No. 3 Duke and No. 4 North Carolina still remain.
"To win at this level, we have to play a little better," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "We worked hard on offense, but we're not finishing, and some of that had to do with Amato. An effort like this late in the game gives us a little confidence and we need that."
Maryland led, 5-2, at the half as Virginia had trouble containing the Terps' transition game. Twice Bernhardt scored off outlet passes, the last one coming with 3:43 left in the second quarter.
Carlson scored his first goal 35 seconds into the game to give Maryland a 1-0 lead, and Cooper pushed the Terps' lead to 4-1 with 7:57 left in the second quarter.
Virginia had several excellent scoring chances in the first half, but twice missed one-on-one opportunities with Amato. The Cavaliers outshot Maryland, 41-32, in the game, but they failed to make quality shots.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun