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Preston: Maryland lacrosse's loss rests just as much with coaches and players as with officials' blown call

Preston: Maryland lacrosse's loss rests just as much with coaches and players as with officials' blown call
Maryland midfielder Jared Bernhardt moves toward the net against Virginia during an NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinal in Hempstead, N.Y., on Saturday. (LEE WEISSMAN / BSMG)

The Maryland men’s lacrosse coaches and players were as much to blame for the team’s 13-12 NCAA quarterfinal loss to Virginia in overtime Saturday as the officials whose blown call late in regulation heavily affected the outcome of the game.

I agree with Terps coach John Tillman. The NCAA Division I tournament is the sport’s biggest stage, and TV exposure in recent years is bigger than ever. So if these games are on national TV, then the officials should use everything at their disposal to make the right calls, and that should include instant replay.

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It’s available, so why not take advantage of the video-review system?

With about one minute left in regulation, Virginia attackman Michael Kraus’ shot hit off the crossbar and bounced to around midfield. It appeared as if the Cavaliers would have gotten the ball back anyway because of their proximity to the shot when it left the field.

But there was some confusion among the referees and the players before the officials ruled that the shot was indeed a goal. Numerous replays, however, showed that the ball never went beyond the plane of the two uprights and into the net.

Instead, the game was tied at 12 and Virginia went on to win in overtime after overcoming a five-goal deficit.

Tillman has been gracious with his response to the blown call, but that’s to be expected. He has always been a class guy, but he did recommend that instant replay be used in the college game, especially in big games with so much at stake.

Yet, as this game unfolded, there were so many instances in which Maryland could have secured the victory. For instance, the Terps started stalling too soon. In one possession late in the game, the Terps decided to use all the time on the 80-second shot clock without attacking the goal.

That makes no sense. They should have at least taken a shot in the waning seconds. Maybe they get a good look and a great shot for a goal. Maybe the goalie misplays the shot and it goes in. Maybe the goalie makes a save, but the Terps catch the carom for an easy goal.

Instead, they came away with nothing, and Virginia got possession, which eventually led to the game-tying goal.

Maryland also seemed content to stay in a zone defense. If a team is controlling faceoffs and pounding your goalie with shots, then you have to make a change. Try something. Anything.

Virginia had solved Maryland’s zone, and the Cavaliers were shrinking it tighter and tighter on every possession in the fourth quarter. And Maryland had no answer.

It was easy to see the gradual meltdown by Maryland, but you were at least hoping the Terps could survive. But once the officials allowed Virginia that goal to tie the game that sent it into overtime, all the momentum had shifted to the Cavaliers.

Defeat seemed almost imminent. Fate had played its part, but so did the Terps.

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