Larry French/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
The Virginia Cavaliers survived a furious late comeback bid by the Maryland Terrapins, winning the NCAA Lacrosse Championship on Monday, 17-16.
Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore led the Cavaliers, each posting four goals and two assists in the victory, while Jeff Conner notched three goals and an assist.
Virginia took a 16-11 lead with just over 11 minutes in the game before Maryland stormed back, cutting the deficit to one with only 11 seconds remaining. Maryland won the preceding faceoff, and Luke Wierman had an open shot on goal just before time expired, but Virginia goalie Alex Rode made the clutchest of clutch saves, preserving the title for the Cavs.
With the win, Virginia defended its 2020 national championship and won its ninth national title overall.
After the game, Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany had nothing but praise for Rode’s efforts in goal—he had 12 saves—despite Maryland putting 16 on the board:
“He is a fantastic goalie every day. The rest of the country just gets to see it mostly in April and May. He steps up big. It’s funny, I just talked to him. He said, ‘I just won a national championship and I sucked.’ I was like, ‘No, no, you were solid!’ He wants to make 15-20 saves a game, and he thinks he should make more saves. But they’re too talented, Maryland just brings too much good heat.”
Rode’s final heroics and Virginia’s efficient offensive display spoiled a monster performance from Maryland’s Logan Wisnauskas (five goals, one assist, 10 shots).
Jared Bernhardt (two goals, three assists) and Kyle Long (one goal, three assists) had strong performances for the Terrapins as well, who nearly pulled off an epic comeback in the final quarter.
Virginia’s bid to repeat as champions after winning the title in 2019 was put on hold last year after the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 campaign. The repeat may have been delayed, but it’s hard to imagine the Cavaliers finally getting it in a more dramatic or memorable fashion.