Virginia Lacrosse Ready For Rematch Against Maryland

Cade Saustad and the Virginia defense face a tough test against Maryland. ~ Photo courtesy Virginia Athletics Media Relations

The Virginia men’s lacrosse team dominated the second half to fend off a scrappy Brown squad in the NCAA Tournament last weekend, but now it will take on the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins in a regular season rematch. The Terps have not lost a game in the regular season in the past two years, with the Cavaliers being the last team to beat them in the 2021 title matchup.

The Terrapins have been outstanding all season, which is why they swept the Big Ten yearly awards. Logan Wisnauskas won Offensive Player of the Year, Brett Makar was named Defensive Player of the Year, Specialist of the Year went to Luke Wierman, and John Tillman was a unanimous selection for Coach of the Year. As evident by the 23-12 win over Virginia on March 19, this Maryland team is one of the strongest teams that have been on the field to date, and it showed the Cavaliers they had some work to do, even now.

“That bar was really high they showed us in March,” UVA coach Lars Tiffany said. “We have improved. Now, have we gotten to that bar yet? We haven’t played at that bar, yet. We did for a second half against Brown, and we need to put two halves like that together.”

Slowing Down Maryland’s Offense

The Terrapins were all over the Cavaliers’ defense in their regular season outing. They had 53 shots with 38 being on goal, compared to Virginia’s 34 total shots. One thing that stuck out to Tiffany was the up-tempo style of play for Maryland.

“That surprised us, how quickly they were playing,” Tiffany said. “Playing Brown, where the broken record to our team all week [was] ‘You’ve got to get back in the hole, these guys love fast’… it does help to say, ‘Hey, it’s the same message’, because we know how Maryland surprised us the first time around.”

Maryland also possesses a diverse group of goal scorers. There were 11 different goal scorers for the Terps against the Cavaliers. Wisnauskas has proven to be one of the top attackers in the nation, as evident by his 3.47 goals per game, which ranks third in the country. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 PLL Draft had 3 goals and 2 assists against Virginia, and he is currently red hot. He has scored 4 goals or more in his last five games. He also has had 12 hat tricks on the year so it will be nearly impossible for the Hoos to neutralize him.

As Tiffany mentioned, the good news for the Cavaliers is they just showed how they fare against a fast-paced team. Although Brown gave them early fits, the Hoos stood tall and used their experience to overcome early drawbacks. The Bears are not at the same level as the Terrapins, but it illustrates that the Virginia defense has made strides over the last couple of months. It will be a pain to go up against the Maryland offense, but the Hoos have seen what type of team they are up against and should be better equipped for the upcoming rematch.

Virginia Adjustments Since First Meeting

Despite Maryland’s offensive production throughout the season, Virginia has to find ways to adjust. This does not necessarily mean to map out a whole new scheme for the upcoming game. Against Brown, the Hoos played a cleaner game in the second half, which led to their late-game run. To Tiffany, the Cavaliers have emphasized fundamentals when the game gets tough.

“We’re not a team that changes too much,” Tiffany said. “We don’t go out there and do things dramatically different. We go back to our fundamentals, try to make our players better players and more cohesive. … They showed us that we weren’t moving quick enough with our slides. We weren’t communicating fast enough. Our defense approaches need to get