Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Maryland, Loyola reach men’s lacrosse Final Four

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The possibility of an all-Maryland NCAA Men’s Lacrosse championship final is within reach. It would mark the first time that two teams from the Old Line State played in the final since back in 1975, when the Terps knocked off Navy 20-13.

Those that may be familiar with some of my past writings know that such a scenario would be absolutely ideal in my eyes. The only way it could be better is if the Final Four were again being held at M&T Bank Stadium this weekend, instead of up in Foxborough (where teams from our great state don’t seem to have the best of luck).

It would be Maryland’s second straight appearance in the championship final, and the second for head coach John Tillman in as many seasons. It’s been a great run for the Terps, who came into the tournament having lost two of their final four games, which resulted in an unseeded position in the tournament and quite the tough road to New England.

Tillman’s team responded though, slipping past Lehigh 10-9 in the opening round before putting on a clinic in perhaps their best performance of the season last Saturday. Maryland handled rival Johns Hopkins – the tournament’s #2 overall seed – in a way that has Terps fans once again thinking championship. The 11-5 victory over Hopkins gave the Terps just their second 2-0 season against their rival, and first since 1973.

Maryland faces a stiff test to get back to Championship Monday though, with another rival standing in their way – the Duke Blue Devils. Maryland and Dook have split so far this season, with the Terps winning 10-7 in College Park on March 3, and the Dookies picking up the victory in the first round of the ACC tournament, 6-5 on April 20.

The Blue Devils have won 12 of their past 13 games, with their only loss coming to Denver in Denver on April 27. They overpowered Colgate 17-6 last Sunday to reach their second straight Final Four, and will be will be looking for revenge after the Terps beat them on Championship Weekend last year by a convincing 9-4 score.

On the other side of the bracket, the surprising Loyola Greyhounds, ranked #1 for most of the season and the tournament’s top overall seed, take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Loyola has reeled off an extremely impressive 16-1 record so far in 2012. Even more impressive is that their only loss came in overtime to Johns Hopkins – they haven’t lost in regulation all year. The Greyhounds beat Canisius 17-5 in the opening round of the tournament before squeaking past Denver last weekend 10-9. If they can get past the Irish, it would be their first appearance in the final since 1990 (lost to Syracuse 21-9).

So root hard for the Terps and Hounds this weekend. If they both win, we’ll be guaranteed to bring the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship Trophy back to Maryland for the first time since 2007 – even more infuriating is that it would be the state’s first title by a team not named Johns Hopkins since that aforementioned 1975 win.

Yeah, I know. Disgraceful.

If both squads fall, it would be a rematch of the 2010 final, won by Dook 6-5 in overtime over the Irish.

Nobody wants that.

Go Terps.

Go Greyhounds.

Hopefully Monday I’ll have to choose one of the two teams to root for (most likely Maryland), but as a fan of the state and the sport, I won’t really be able to lose. Sounds like a great re-”lax”-ing way to spend Memorial Day to me.

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