The Maryland men's lacrosse team is in Foxborough, Mass., this weekend to compete in its fourth straight final four. Should the Terps beat No. 5 seed Denver on Saturday, they'll play in their third consecutive national championship game, their fifth since coach John Tillman took over the program seven years ago.
The consistent success is something to cherish. It's become the expectation for Maryland lacrosse in College Park.
But the one thing that's missing from Tillman's record, and that of his predecessors for the past 41 years, is a national championship.
Since the Terps' last national title, in 1975, they've made the final nine times … and lost nine times. Before they try to erase the sting with two wins in Gillette Stadium, here are those nine defeats, ranked from least to most painful.
1997: No. 1 seed Princeton 19, No. 7 seed Maryland 7
Maryland had a couple of one-goal victories to advance to the championship at then-Byrd Stadium in College Park, but the defending champion Tigers weren't ready to relinquish their crown. While it hurt to fall short, the Terps, who finished 11-5 overall, nonetheless exceeded expectations in the postseason.
1998: No. 2 Princeton 15, No. 5 Maryland, 15-5
Another year, another swift defeat against those pesky Tigers. Should Maryland have managed a better fight in the rematch? Probably. But the Terps weren't alone in struggling against the Tigers, who won three straight crowns and five total in the decade.
2011: No. 7 Virginia 9, Maryland 7
In coach John Tillman's first season, the Terps earned a taste of what's since become commonplace: championship game appearances and agony. Tillman's squad was the fourth unseeded team to ever make the title game, but before a hometown crowd in M&T Bank Stadium, a slow offense and Tewaaraton Award winner Steele Stanwick (Loyola Blakefield) doomed the trophy pursuit.
2012: No. 1 Loyola Maryland 9, Maryland 3
Tillman returned Maryland to the championship game in his second season, again as an underdog, but offensive inconsistency continued to plague the Terps. After six-goal victories over No. 2 Johns Hopkins and No. 3 Duke in the previous two rounds, they watched a local foe win its first national championship — in its first finals appearance since 1990, no less.
2015: No. 4 Denver 10, No. 6 Maryland 5
The men's lacrosse championship weekend has two teams that are looking for their first Division I title; another team that needs to end a drought; and one team that could win its second championship in three years.
The Terps won three one-goal games to get to the championship, and the feeling was that this was going to be the year. Right? Think again. Denver, with star attackman Connor Cannizzaro, who transferred from Maryland a year before, won its first national championship, while Maryland had its lowest scoring total of the season. Its championship drought reached 40 years.
1995: No. 3 Syracuse 13, No. 4 Maryland 9
Maryland goalie Brian Dougherty was hot throughout the NCAA tournament, leading the Terps to a 16-8 win over previously unbeaten and top-ranked Johns Hopkins in the semifinals. But that wasn't enough to stop the Orange, even in College Park. Dougherty was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, but he no doubt wishes he could put an NCAA title trophy next to that award.
1979: No. 1 Johns Hopkins 15, No. 2 Maryland 9
If there's one thing Maryland lacrosse fans despise as much as losing in championship games, it's the rival Blue Jays. So it stung when Johns Hopkins crashed Byrd Stadium with five unanswered goals in the second quarter to win a second straight title. It was Maryland's sixth championship appearance in the 1970s and its fourth loss.
1976: No. 2 Cornell 16, No. 1 Maryland 13, OT
How can a title loss the year after winning a crown be one of Maryland's most excruciating? Well, that's what happens when you blow a 7-2 halftime lead. The Terps scored a buzzer-beater to force overtime and salvage their chance for a repeat crown in legendary All-American Frank Urso's final game, but Cornell prevailed in the battle of unbeatens with four goals in the extra period.
2016: North Carolina 14, No. 1 Maryland 13, OT
Overlooked? Maybe, but short-stick defensive midfielder Nick Manis of Maryland men’s lacrosse said he doesn’t play “to get noticed.”
Apologies for poking at such a fresh wound, but Maryland's defeat last season stands alone. As the clear favorites and No. 1 overall seed for the first time since 1989, the Terps had a two-goal lead with less than four minutes left, then a man-up advantage to open overtime. But late heroics from the Tar Heels and a man-down slip-up on defense prolonged the championship drought. Tillman couldn't hide his tears after the game, but he and the No. 1 seed Terps will look to turn 41 years of frowns into smiles this weekend.