CHARLOTTESVILLE — Virginia sophomore Ryan Tucker is one of the hardest shooters in men’s college lacrosse. Maryland junior goalie Niko Amato is one of the best goalies.
A showdown between the two in the final minute on Saturday went Amato’s way to help the Terrapins to a 9-7 victory before 5,525 at Klockner Stadium.
The Cavaliers (5-5, 0-1 ACC) have lost four in a row for the first time since 2004. But they added some late drama against the second-ranked Terrapins (7-1, 2-1).
Maryland led 9-5 and had possession with 1 minute 43 seconds remaining. Virginia was using a full-pressure defense with the goalie out of the cage to try to create a turnover. Maryland senior Kevin Cooper, seeing the goal vacant, took a shot — but Virginia sophomore defenseman Greg Danseglio reached the goal area and deflected the shot, then controlled the loose ball and ran upfield.
He passed to redshirt freshman Greg Coholan, who scored to cut the deficit to 9-6 with 1:35 left. Virginia won the ensuing faceoff and, eight seconds later, closed to 9-7 on a goal by junior Nick O’Reilly.
Maryland won the faceoff but redshirt senior Owen Blye turned it over and the Cavaliers had a fast break with 45 seconds left. Tucker, whose shot has been clocked at 103 mph, moved to inside 10 yards on Amato and shot from the right wing.
To that point, Tucker had taken five shots — two were goals; Amato saved three. And Tucker’s final shot also was saved by Amato, off his foot, to clinch the victory.
“They like to get up and down the field. That last play suited his game,” Amato said. “He went down the wing and he has a big, heavy righty shot. Fortunately enough we were able to make a stop.”
Despite the late flourish, Virginia’s offense struggled. In the first half the Cavaliers made one of their first 16 shots and that helped Maryland take a 5-1 lead following a goal by longstick midfielder Jesse Bernhadt with 3:54 left in the first half.
In a 15-8 loss to Johns Hopkins last week, the Cavaliers went 1 for 20 in the first half and trailed 9-1.
“We have to get a little better,” Virginia Coach Dom Starsia said. “We have to shoot a little better, defend a little better and I have to coach a little better. . . . If we can get a little bit better we can do some damage.”
Virginia has not missed the NCAA tournament since 2004; it went 5-8 that year. After 10 games that year, Virginia was 4-6 and was shooting 89 for 396 (22.4 percent). Through 10 games this year, the Cavaliers are 118 for 462 (25.5 percent).
Yet Starsia said not to expect any personnel changes on offense.
“I don’t think there are a lot of personnel changes there,” Starsia said. “We have a new attack that’s trying to figure things out. Seeing Nick O’Reilly step down and shoot the ball like that [for the seventh goal], I’d like to show him that 10 times on film because that’s how we have to shoot the ball. . . . There are things we can do better with the people we have out there.”
Meantime, Maryland won despite some erratic play by its seniors. Those plays included Cooper’s late shot; an unnecessary-roughness penalty on senior midfielder Jake Bernhardt in the fourth quarter; and a pass toward the goal that went out of bounds by Jesse Bernhardt a few seconds after a timeout in which the coaches asked the team for a long possession.
Sophomore Jay Carlson led the way with three goals, including a goal on a behind-the-back shot with six seconds left in the third quarter.
Senior John Haus added two goals for the Terrapins, who are likely to retake the No.1 ranking following Notre Dame’s 12-10 loss to St. John’s.
“I thought our guys played really hard,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said. “Our effort was outstanding. Our execution needs to be cleaned up and our decision-making needs to get better. But I’ll certainly not question our heart.”
●LEHIGH 12, NAVY 7: Junior Sam Jones had four goals and two assists, but it wasn’t enough for the Midshipmen (3-7, 1-4 Patriot League) against the Mountain Hawks (7-4, 3-0). Lehigh led 6-2 at halftime, then scored the first three goals of the third quarter.