No. 6 Maryland's 9-6 victory over No. 7 Virginia on Sunday not only helped the Terps rebound from their first loss of the season to North Carolina, but it appears to have also have sealed them a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The win helped Maryland improve to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the league, which is the best mark in the ACC. Even if the Terps were to fall at No. 9 Notre Dame on April 19, they would finish with a 3-2 record in the conference.
The Cavaliers (8-3, 1-2), who are tied with the No. 5 Tar Heels (7-2, 1-2) for fourth place in the league, can finish with no better than a 3-2 mark, and thanks to Sunday’s outcome, Maryland owns the head-to-head tiebreaker and would get the fourth and last berth in the ACC tournament before Virginia would.
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Terps coach John Tillman, who spoke on a conference call on Tuesday morning prior to Wednesday’s home game against Robert Morris (4-5), said he had not considered the team’s status for the conference tournament.
“We haven’t really talked too much about that,” he said. “Knowing that this Robert Morris game was kind of in front of us, that’s all we’ve really talked about. I think with so much lacrosse to play in the ACC and with so little time to prepare here, I just don’t have enough time to try to figure that out. I think we’ve done as much as we can do at this point. Obviously, when the last league game or that week presents itself, we’ll get to thinking about that again. But we really haven’t talked or thought about it that much as a staff or anything like that. It just feels like it’s so far away and so out of our control that we just really have to focus on Robert Morris right now.”
Maryland is in sole possession of first place in the league, which would seem to be a perfect rebuttal of a ACC preseason poll that had picked the team to finish last. Tillman, however, chose to accentuate the positive rather than the negative.
“We thought we had potential,” he said. “We thought this team could have some success this year. I’m very proud of what the guys have done so far. I’m proud of how they’ve approached it. It doesn’t mean you’re always going to win, but since the day they got here, this team has worked hard and they’ve bought into being a team. We have a lot of guys that don’t get recognized on game day, but they’re on the scout team, they’ve sacrificed, they’ve lifted weights, they’ve gotten up early. We’ve had guys get hurt and play through injuries. The older guys have accepted the younger guys, and the younger guys have basically been ego-less since the day they walked in here.
"I’ve appreciated their approach, and I think that put us in a position to have a chance. We knew we’d have a chance, but it doesn’t always mean that it’s going to work because we know how talented the teams in this league are. So we’re in the mix and I think we’re right there with a lot of other teams. So that’s what we’ve got to talk about with our team. There are a lot of good teams out there and you’re one of them, and it’s a matter of what you do going forward, how we learn as we go, how we improve, and we need to get better every day to be what we want to be.”