Saturday’s matchup between No. 1 Virginia (6-1, 0-0 ACC) and No. 3 Maryland (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) certainly lived up to the hype. In front of a raucous crowd of 5,745 — the Cavaliers’ largest home crowd for a lacrosse game since 2013 — Virginia battled back to tie the game late before Maryland junior attacker Daniel Kelly scored from the top of the box in overtime to seal the 13-14 victory for the Terrapins.
Right from the opening faceoff, it was clear that this would be a different game than the rest of the Cavaliers’ victories this season. Virginia did not get off to the fast start that fans have become so accustomed to this season, but instead found themselves down early.
The Cavaliers struggled early on to cleanly receive passes and found themselves unable to capitalize on the hot start of graduate student midfielder Petey LaSalla. LaSalla won four out of five faceoffs in the first quarter. Of those opportunities, Virginia was only able to score once, as graduate student midfielder Thomas McConvey took advantage of an assist from sophomore attacker Griffin Schutz to put the Cavaliers on the board in the first quarter. Still, Virginia found themselves down 3-1 going into the second period.
As the second quarter began, the Cavaliers looked like a completely different team. Virginia was able to clean up their passing and better run the offense, resulting in the Cavaliers scoring the next five goals of the game. Senior attacker Payton Cormier — back on the field after a two-game injury hiatus — was able to contribute two goals.
After a late Terrapin goal with under three minutes to go in the quarter, the Cavaliers went into halftime with a 6-4 lead. A penalty on senior defender Quentin Matsui at the end of the half meant that Maryland would start the third quarter with both a man-up advantage and possession of the ball.
Virginia started off the third quarter well, managing to kill off the penalty, but a defensive breakdown just seconds later allowed junior midfielder Jack Koras to sneak in and score, cutting the Cavaliers’ lead to just one.
The Terrapins would continue to stay in control for most of the third quarter, taking the lead back from Virginia. A McConvey goal with just three seconds in the quarter cut it down to a 10-9 Maryland lead heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
In the fourth quarter, the Terrapins looked to put the game away, scoring a pair of goals within the first three minutes, but redshirt senior attacker Xander Dickson scored his first of the day to keep the Cavaliers within two.
With the score standing at 12-10, it would be nine minutes before the next goal, which came from Schutz with under four minutes left in the game. Koras scored for Maryland just a minute later, but Virginia refused to go away. Redshirt junior attacker Connor Shellenberger scored his first of the day, and McConvey tied the score at 13 shortly after, sending Klöckner Stadium into a frenzy.
On the ensuing possession, the Terrapins ran down the field and scored what appeared to be the game-winning goal, but the officials ruled that Maryland had called a timeout and the goal was wiped from the board. The sequence had uncanny similarities to the last matchup between these two teams at Klöckner in 2009, in which the Terrapins’ game-winning goal in the first overtime period was also disallowed after an inadvertent whistle signaled a Maryland timeout right before.
In overtime, the Cavaliers were able to get off three shots in a row, but freshman goalie Brian Ruppel stood tall for the Terrapins and made the save each time. On Maryland’s ensuing possession, Kelly received the ball at the top of the box and launched the game-winner, ending Virginia’s winning streak.
Coach Lars Tiffany was disappointed with the loss but hopeful for things to come with his team.
“We’ve been fortunate to be very comfortable a lot of times by the time we get to the fourth quarter,” Tiffany said. “A lot of great things happened today. What a great lacrosse game. Obviously, it stings. It hurts. You get kicked in the gut when you lose it in overtime, but let’s not lose sight.”
While the loss will certainly live in the back of Virginia’s mind, the result was still an improvement from the pair of losses the Cavaliers suffered at the hands of Maryland last season. The match should give the team confidence heading into conference play, where competition will prove to be just as tough as Virginia’s non-conference schedule.
The Cavaliers will get another shot at one of the nation’s top teams when they take on Notre Dame on the road next Saturday. That match is scheduled to begin at noon and will be televised on ESPNU.