Several anxious days of NCAA tournament uncertainty for the Maryland men’s lacrosse team ended with joy and relief when the Terrapins learned Sunday night that they had secured a berth in the field of 17.
The 2017 national champions joined Virginia and Georgetown in the NCAA tournament, which culminates with the national semifinals and championship game over Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia.
Maryland (11-4) will make its 42nd NCAA tournament appearance when it visits No. 6 seed Towson (11-4) in the first round at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, rekindling a dormant instate rivalry.
The Terrapins, who reached the NCAA semifinals last season, are unseeded for the first time since 2012 after losing their past two games, both to Johns Hopkins — most recently a 12-7 defeat in the Big Ten tournament semifinals Thursday in Piscataway, N.J. Those losses had Maryland on the bubble with Cornell. In the end, the selection committee valued the Terps’ body of work more and left the Big Red out.
Virginia (13-3) is the No. 3 seed as an at-large and plays Robert Morris (9-7), the Northeast Conference tournament champion, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Klockner Stadium. Over the weekend, Virginia claimed its first ACC tournament title since 2010 by routing Notre Dame, 10-4. The win did not come with an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament because the conference does not have the minimum number of six lacrosse-playing schools.
“There’s three different seasons,” Virginia midfielder Dox Aitken said Saturday. “You’ve got the regular season, you’ve got the ACC tournament, and you’ve got the NCAA playoffs. We’ve been taking it game by game, season by season, and now we’re on to the most important season.”
The Cavaliers are seeking their sixth NCAA tournament championship and first since 2011. They enter the tournament having won four in a row and 12 of 13 in their third year under Coach Lars Tiffany. Last season, the Cavaliers exited the NCAA tournament with a 14-12 loss at Loyola (Md.) in the first round. Virginia’s most recent win in the NCAA tournament came in 2012.
The Virginia-Robert Morris winner will face the Maryland-Towson victor in the quarterfinals.
Georgetown (13-4) was an automatic NCAA qualifier after it claimed the Big East tournament championship for a second straight season. The Hoyas play No. 5 seed Yale (12-3), the 2018 national champion, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in New Haven, Conn.
It’s the 13th NCAA appearance and second in a row for Georgetown, which matched a program record for victories and has won five straight games, including a 12-9 win at Denver in the Big East tournament final Saturday.
Last season, Georgetown lost, 10-9, in overtime at Johns Hopkins in the NCAA tournament’s first round. The Hoyas did not reach the tournament from 2008 to 2017.
Penn State is the No. 1 overall seed, and Duke is No. 2. Maryland Baltimore County, Loyola, Johns Hopkins and Richmond are also in the field.
On the women’s side, Maryland is the No. 1 overall seed as it seeks its 15th national championship, including its fifth this decade. The Terps (18-1) will face James Madison or Stony Brook on Sunday in College Park. The other area teams in the field of 28 are No. 6 seed Virginia (12-6), Navy (15-4) and Georgetown (11-8).
The Cavaliers, who lost to Syracuse, 12-10, in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, have a bye and on Sunday will host the winner of Friday’s game between Navy and High Point in Charlottesville. The Midshipmen secured an at-large berth after losing to Loyola, 21-9, in Saturday’s Patriot League tournament title game.
Georgetown plays Pennsylvania on Friday in Syracuse, N.Y., after clinching an NCAA berth by winning the Big East tournament for the first time since 2010. The Hoyas rallied from a 6-0 deficit to outlast Denver in double overtime, 9-8, in Saturday’s championship game in Milwaukee.
Johns Hopkins, Loyola and Richmond are also in the women’s field.