HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — It might sound like exaggeration to say that by the end of the first quarter, the Maryland men’s lacrosse team had clinched its 16-8 victory over Bryant in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal before a stadium-record crowd of 13,519 at Hofstra University on Saturday.
But it’s not much of an exaggeration.
Seventh-seeded Maryland (13-3) scored on its opening possession, a running right-handed low shot from fifth-year senior Mike Chanenchuk. It scored on its second possession on a high shot from the middle of the field by sophomore Henry West.
It scored on its third possession and its fourth and its sixth, seventh and eighth.
By the time Bryant first had the ball in its offensive end, it trailed 4-0. At the end of the first quarter, the deficit was 7-2.
“At 7-2 it was an uphill battle,” Bryant Coach Mike Pressler said. “They were certainly on their game.”
Saturday’s game featured the top two faceoff men in the nation. Bryant junior Kevin Massa entered as the leader in win percentage at 70.8 percent. Maryland junior Charlie Raffa was second at 67.6 percent.
The expected battle was a no-contest. Like his team, Raffa hardly could have expected a better start: He began by winning nine in a row against Massa.
The standing-room-only crowd at Hofstra included nearly two full sections of Bryant fans who stood and cheered the whole game. They brought signs such as “Twerk the Terps!” and many fans wore eye black similar to the players.
The fans were hoping for a repeat of a 10-9 victory over No. 2 Syracuse in a first-round game last week.
On Saturday, there was far less for them to cheer. By the end of the first quarter, Pressler had used both of his timeouts in frustration, Massa had been replaced by redshirt freshman Cody O’Donnell and the Bulldogs already had broken out their stingy zone defense to no avail. Maryland scored regardless.
Adding to Bryant’s frustration in the quarter, if that were possible, was that it scored on two of its three settled possessions.
The game provided a homecoming for Maryland’s contingent of players from Long Island, almost all of whom contributed. Chanenchuk finished with five goals and four assists. Raffa won 14 of 20 faceoffs. Junior Joe LoCascio scored three goals. And senior Michael Ehrhardt added seven groundballs, mostly as a wing on faceoffs.
“The Long Island guys did a great job of leading us,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said.
Said Raffa: “I felt pretty confident coming into the game. I didn’t really feel any pressure at all. . . . They weren’t always covering Michael Ehrhardt on the wing, so usually I was able to pop it to myself or get it out to him and he was open.”
The unseeded Bulldogs (16-5) closed to 14-8 with about seven minutes left. But Maryland put the game away with goals from freshman Matt Rambo and Chanenchuk. For Bryant, senior Colin Dunster scored four goals and sophomore Shane Morrell added two.
The Terrapins are in the Final Four for the third time in four years under Tillman. They last won a national title in 1975, though they have a chance to rectify that next weekend in Baltimore.
“It doesn’t matter if we last did it last year or 30 years ago,” Tillman said. “This group of guys is looking to do something special for the state, the school and the alums.”
●NOTRE DAME 14, ALBANY 13 (OT): Fighting Irish sophomore Matt Kavanagh scored with 1 minute 31 seconds elapsed in sudden-death overtime to lift his team past the Great Danes. With the win, Notre Dame (11-5) advances to play Maryland in an NCAA semifinal Saturday.
Albany (12-6) had taken a 12-7 lead on a goal by Doug Eich early in the fourth quarter before the Fighting Irish rallied. Great Danes junior Miles Thompson finished with three goals, and older brother Lyle, a senior, added three goals and three assists. Miles Thompson finished with 82 goals to tie the NCAA single-season record. Lyle Thompson tied the NCAA single-season assist record with 80.