Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse doubles up Virginia, advances to Final Four, 18-9

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Following a goalless first half, Logan Wisnauskas chalked up two quick third quarter scores. 

On Maryland’s first extra-man chance of the game, the ball found Wisnauskas again and he converted his third of the game, turning a scoreless effort into another hat trick on the season. 

Just six seconds later, Luke Wierman found an open Owen Murphy for another goal — giving him a hat trick of his own — putting the Terps up ten with more than a quarter to play.

Thanks to hat tricks from Anthony DeMaio, Wisnauskas and four goals from Murphy, No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse defeated Virginia for the second time this season to advance to the Final Four, 18-9.

“I’m excited for another week together with this group,” coach John Tillman said. “Really proud of our guys of how they prepared, staring down the defending national champions. Lars and his staff do such a great job, they’re very, very talented, tough draw in the quarters. But our guys rose to the challenge.”

In the latest edition of the DMV showdown, it was Virginia who got the scoring started. After both sides held possession, the Cavaliers got the ball back and set up on offense. Midfielder Griffin Schutz wrapped around from behind the goal and finished quickly past Logan McNaney to put Virginia ahead to start the game. 

Following an early drought, DeMaio put Maryland in the scoring column. 

In a matter of minutes, the Terps’ veteran midfielder racked up a pair of first quarter goals to spark the Terps offense from a stagnant start, taking away Virginia’s early lead before giving it to Maryland a possession later.

The only member of this year’s Maryland team with a championship ring to his credit, DeMaio has displayed an extra gear since postseason play began, notching hat tricks in every game so far. 

DeMaio’s hot start was followed by a goal for Jonathan Donville, before DeMaio completed the first quarter hat trick with his third goal of the game. In a matter of minutes, a one-goal deficit was now a three-goal lead.

“I think we have a really experienced group, we have six guys out there all working for one goal and that’s just to put the ball in the back of the net,” DeMaio said. “Within the offense it could literally be anyone. We have six guys playing different roles and it can be any guy at any point.”

Virginia got a goal back to open the second quarter, as Jeff Conner got free and let a shot fly. The comeback attempt wouldn’t last long, as the Terps added a pair of scores in a 30-second span to grow the lead to four. 

Conner contributed another Cavaliers score to cut the deficit once again, but it wasn’t enough. Maryland had found its rhythm and rattled off three more unanswered goals before Payton Cormier scored another Virginia goal. Cormier’s goal stemmed the Maryland run, sending the Cavaliers to halftime facing a five-goal deficit, 9-4.

Conner Shellenberger and Matt Moore, Virginia’s offensive leaders, were rendered almost scoreless in the first half, chalking up just one point between the pair.

“The scout [team] gave us a great look all week,” Ajax Zappitello said.  “Kind of mimicking what they do, that fast paced offense, which really helped us. Just playing team defense, we have such a supportive group with a lot of veterans on [this] team, so it makes it really easy to lean on that experience.”

 Meanwhile for Maryland, Wisnauskas started quietly, registering just two assists and no goals in the first two quarters. He picked it up to open the third. 

Following a McNaney save on the other end, John Geppert broke out in transition and scooped up the loose pass from his keeper. Geppert kept moving, finding Wisnauskas on the break, who finished past Matthew Nunes for his first goal of the game. 

Wisnauskas followed up his first goal with another quick score from about ten yards away, adding a pair to Maryland’s advantage to start the second half. Maryland added two more before Matt Moore finally scored a second-half Virginia goal, but the rout was in place.

Almost two minutes after Moore’s goal, Wisnauskas and Murphy completed their hat tricks, as Maryland continued its domination of the two-time reigning national champions. 

“[Wisnauskas is] not a man of much emotion, pretty stoic either way,” Tillman said. “He’s always a pro and you wouldn’t know whether he scored four goals or had four turnovers, he’s just laser focused and has been his whole career.”

Conner, Schutz and Cormier added scores the rest of the way for Virginia, but offset by a goal from Keegan Khan, Daniel Kelly  and another from Murphy, Virginia found itself in a too little, too late position. 

A chippy finish to the contest didn’t change the result, as Maryland shook off a slow first quarter to dominate the team that took them down in the title game a season ago, ending Virginia’s season in the process. With the win, the Terps will advance to Memorial Day weekend for the second year in a row, with just two more wins separating them from their ultimate goal of a national title. 

Led by a more balanced attack than last season when Jared Bernhardt ran the show, it was a yet another team approach that propelled Maryland past the 2021 champions to reach the Final Four for a second-straight season.

“We all have an end goal in mind here and just taking it day by day,” DeMaio said. “We’re not there yet and I think we all know what the job is. And we just got to finish that job.”