Maryland men’s lacrosse tops Virginia in Terps’ final ACC home game

March 30

The men’s lacrosse contest between No. 4 Maryland and No. 8 Virginia in the rain on Sunday at Byrd Stadium turned into a game of keep-away.

The Terrapins won the final five faceoffs and controlled the ball for more than 21 minutes in the second half of a 9-6 victory before 3,424. It was Maryland’s final home ACC men’s lacrosse game before it joins the Big Ten.

Included in a frustrating second half for the Cavaliers (8-3, 1-2 ACC) was a stretch of 9 minutes 56 seconds in which they did not take a shot. Their first shot in the fourth quarter came with 5:05 to play. By then, Maryland led 8-6.

The starting attack — senior Mark Cockerton, junior Owen Van Arsdale and sophomore James Pannell — entered as Virginia’s three leading scorers.

On Sunday, they combined to go 2-for-11 shooting with no assists. Cockerton entered with a team-high 32 goals this year and 81 in the past two seasons. He was guarded primarily by sophomore Matt Dunn and finished with no goals and four shots, two in each half.

“It was a lot of little things,” Virginia Coach Dom Starsia said. “Maryland upped the ante a little bit in the second half.”

Sophomore Henry West finished with three goals and two assists and junior Charlie Raffa won 14 of 19 faceoffs for the Terrapins (8-1, 3-1).

West was a main part of the game within the game. Virginia’s aggressive man-to-man defense was expected to use two of its longsticks on attackmen and two on midfielders. Virginia was expected to use one shortstick defender on junior attackman Jay Carlson, an accurate shooter — 15 for 29 this year — but not a very mobile player.

Maryland countered by moving speedy freshman Connor Cannizzaro from midfield to the starting attack. West took Cannizzaro’s spot on the starting midfield, and Carlson played only on extra-man offense.

A goal by Cannizzaro, assisted by West, gave Maryland the lead for good at 6-5 midway through the third quarter. For the game, Maryland had 25 settled offensive possessions. West was in the game for 20. West entered as a second-line midfielder and backup faceoff specialist.

“We felt like Connor was doing a good job in practice, and we wanted him on the field a little more,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said. “Our goal was to use [Carlson], but we had such short possessions in the first half we didn’t get a chance to use him as much.”

Sunday marked a unique installment in the rivalry, which dates from 1926. (Maryland leads 47-44.)

On the field at Byrd Stadium, the Maryland state flag in the two end zones and the Maryland school name at midfield have received fresh coats of paint. So have the field markings and the signs advertising the school’s athletic Web site.

Only the painted “ACC,” one on each side of the field, is fading. With the move to a new conference, it remains to be seen whether Maryland and Virginia will play in the future.

“We have great respect for Virginia and great respect for the tradition of this rivalry,” Tillman said. “We hope it continues, and it’s something they want to do. We are certainly open to it.”

Said Starsia: “In general I hate to see the [Virginia] rivalry with Maryland in all the different sports go by the boards. But by necessity I need to make adjustments to my schedule by [the ACC] bringing in Notre Dame. I don’t think it’s a good thing for our sport necessarily that Virginia and Maryland may not play in the regular season. But we’ve got plenty of games on our schedule.”

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