No. 4 Virginia men’s lacrosse ends trend, topples No. 5 Maryland

No. 4 Virginia men’s lacrosse ends trend, topples No. 5 Maryland

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 1

With the final seconds ticking off the clock in fourth-ranked Virginia’s 14-10 men’s lacrosse win against No. 5 Maryland, Cavaliers midfielder Griffin Schutz took special delight in playing keep-away from several defenders desperately attempting to dislodge the ball from the junior’s stick.

Schutz made certain to retain possession while soaking in the moment as the final buzzer sounded Saturday afternoon at SECU Stadium in College Park. The result was cathartic for Schutz and his Virginia teammates because they had grown weary of hearing how the Terrapins had won the previous three meetings to tilt the series.

Schutz wound up having a considerable say in the latest edition of the border rivalry. He finished with a game-high four goals and added two assists, and nine Cavaliers scored in a third consecutive triumph that kept them perfect on the road this season.

“We really tried to keep it about us, do the things that we could do well, and I think that really helped us,” said Schutz, who at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds exerted a physical toll on Maryland’s smaller midfielders. “Obviously the outcome’s awesome. It’s good to have the monkey off our backs now, for sure.”

The decisive stretch unfolded late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, when Virginia (6-1) reeled off three goals in a row to expand the lead to 12-7 with 13:21 left in regulation. The last of those came when midfielder Chase Yager, a graduate transfer from Harvard, scooped up a rebound off his initial miss and buried the putback past Terrapins goalie Logan McNaney (10 saves).

Graduate attackman Connor Shellenberger also scored in that flurry for the 276th point of his decorated career. Shellenberger, who became the program’s all-time assists leader last weekend, needs two points to pass Matt Moore to become the Cavaliers’ career leader.

Virginia goalie Matt Nunes kept Maryland (5-2) at bay in the early going and finished with nine saves on 19 shots on goal. His close defense excelled as well, particularly Cole Kastner. The senior captain helped limit Terrapins attackman Eric Spanos to two goals, both early in the first quarter. The junior entered leading Maryland with 15 goals this season.

The Cavaliers collected 16 turnovers and committed just eight. They also were 19 for 22 on clears.

The Terrapins trimmed the deficit to 12-10 with 11:04 left in the fourth quarter, but Virginia withstood the rally when freshman attackman McCabe Millon — the top-rated prospect in the country — and graduate attackman Payton Cormier both scored to close the game.

“They present a lot of problems, and I thought they did a really good job of just kind of executing the things that they do,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said of the Cavaliers. “They do a good job of putting pressure on you, whether it’s the clearing game or in their early offense, going from offense to defense. They’re really unique. They keep all their offensive guys on, which forces you to play defense.”

Behind a 5-0 run bridging the first and second quarters, Virginia went into halftime ahead 7-5. Schutz had a hat trick in the first half, highlighted by an underhanded shot that sailed into the upper corner of the net for a 6-2 lead, the largest to that point for the Cavaliers, with 7:55 to go in the second quarter.

The Terrapins answered with three consecutive goals, the last two of which went low past the stick of Nunes. Senior attackman Kelly and graduate midfielder Ryan Siracusa fired shots into small windows to draw Maryland within 6-5, but a poor clearing pass from McNaney a minute later set up the final goal for the Cavaliers.

Cormier intercepted the ball near midfield and delivered a pass to Millon, who beat McNaney from inside 15 yards with 2:49 to play in the first half. Millon ended with three goals.

“He’s a big man, and what he did today — it’s what we’ve been encouraging him, pleading with him to do,” Virginia Coach Lars Tiffany said of Schutz, who had just seven goals coming into the weekend. “Maryland’s game plan was to win a lot of matchups. We weren’t winning a lot of matchups against short-stick defensive midfielders, so essentially saying, ‘Schutz, I know you’ve got a long pole, but like, someone’s got to win a matchup,’ and we challenged him, and boy, did he step up.”

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