NCAA lacrosse: Chanenchuk’s game-winner sends Maryland past Cornell in playoff opener

May 10

Maryland fifth-year senior Mike Chanenchuk made two vital plays in the final 10 seconds of an 8-7 victory over Cornell in an NCAA men’s lacrosse first-round game Saturday night at Byrd Stadium.

Chanenchuk scored the winning goal with two seconds left to send the Terrapins (12-3) into an NCAA quarterfinal next Saturday in Hempstead, N.Y. Maryland will face the winner of No. 2 Syracuse and Bryant.

The winning goal was what will be most remembered. But Chanenchuk also made an important play to set up the goal.

Maryland had the ball with under a minute to play and the game tied at 7. It set up a play for junior Brian Cole to dodge to the goal while being defended by a short-stick defender.

Cole’s shot was blocked and Chanenchuk came up with the groundball and enabled the Terrapins to retain possession — and call timeout — with nine seconds to play.

Following the timeout, sophomore Henry West fired a cross-field pass to Chanenchuk, whose 10-yard shot from the wing went past freshman goalie Christian Knight and set off a wild celebration on the Maryland sideline.

Both players involved in the winning goal had transferred from Ivy League schools, Chanenchuk from Princeton and West from Cornell.

“We had some multiple options [on the winning play],” Maryland Coach John Tillman said. “But we thought we had some good people in good spots. . . . Michael obviously is a great shooter. We just knew we had to do something and it had to be something for a short-time play.”

Said Chanenchuk: “For a goalie, probably the most difficult [shot to save] is when the ball is swinging all the way across the field. So I thought if I could catch it and get a shot off quick I might have the advantage.”

The goal gave Maryland its only lead of the game against the unseeded Big Red (11-5).

The game-within-the-game settled in two main areas.

Maryland’s talented freshmen class includes four players who play regularly on offense.

The Big Red countered with freshman goalie Knight (13 saves), who helped frustrate Maryland early — it missed its first 15 shots and was scoreless for the opening 24 minutes 59 seconds.

But Maryland freshmen Matt Rambo and Connor Cannizzaro accounted for five consecutive goals in the second half to lead Maryland back from a 5-1 halftime deficit.

Meanwhile, Cornell’s offense was focused on the matchup between leading scorer Matt Donovan and three-year starting defenseman Goran Murray. Donovan had the better of the matchup — three goals in the first half on isolation moves that began behind the goal.

In the second half, Donovan had an assist on a similar play to give the Big Red a 7-5 lead with 10:17 to play. But the Big Red took just three shots after that. Donovan finished with three goals and an assist. Rambo had three goals, Chanenchuk added two goals and two assists and senior Michael Ehrhardt added six groundballs for Maryland.

“Unfortunately they got the last possession,” said Cornell interim Coach Matt Kerwick. “We had a couple turnovers in the fourth quarter that came back to bite us.”

Tillman noted that the winning goal came with Maryland in a timer-on situation. Had Chanenchuk shot with one second left instead of two, it would not have counted.

“That’s sometimes how close winning and losing are,” he said.

●ALBANY 13, LOYOLA 6: In Baltimore, the unseeded Great Danes (12-5) had two players eclipse the NCAA single-season record for points to beat the No. 3 seed Greyhounds (15-2). Junior Lyle Thompson finished with three goals and five assists for 122 points this season. Senior Miles Thompson had five goals and two assists to give him 115 points.

●NOTRE DAME 13, HARVARD 5: Senior John Scioscia had four goals for the Fighting Irish (10-5) over the Crimson (10-7) in South Bend, Ind.

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