Virginia Struggles In Loss To Maryland, But Will Try To Use It For 2023 Fuel

Maryland has finally gotten rid of its postseason pest. The Virginia men’s lacrosse team was eliminated by Maryland, 18-9, in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals in a championship rematch from a season ago. Before this matchup, the Cavaliers held a five-game winning streak in the postseason over the Terrapins, which dates back to 2003.

After a strong start to the season, the Cavaliers faced some adversity after their first loss to Maryland, but they managed to get back to full strength. In the end, an unlucky draw of facing the Terrapins early cut the Cavaliers’ season short and ended their reign as two-time defending champions.

For UVA coach Lars Tiffany, it was clear to him before and now who the best team in the country is.

“We’ve been fortunate the last two full seasons in ‘19 and ‘21 to finish our seasons holding up the National Championship trophy,” Tiffany said. “It’s hard to not have the Final Four be a part of the Virginia lacrosse season. But there’s a reason it’s ended and it’s because we’ve just faced, in my opinion, the best team in the last 16 years.”

Griffin Schutz scored the first goal of the game to put the Cavaliers up after four minutes of play, but the Terps rattled off the next four goals of the quarter. Jeff Conner tried to keep the game close with his 2 goals in the second quarter, but, again, Maryland was simply too much. The top seed took a 9-4 lead into halftime.

The Terrapins opened up the second half with 4 goals, including 2 by Logan Wisnauskas. After a goal from UVA’s Matt Moore, Wisnauskas added his third goal of the quarter for his 13th hat trick on the season. Virginia would only be outscored by one goal in the fourth quarter, but the game was too far out of reach for any sort of comeback.

The Terrapins were humming along, thanks to a well-oiled offense and extra possessions. Similar to the first outing, Luke Wierman dominated the circle against Petey LaSalla, which propelled Maryland to win 21 of 31 faceoffs. The Terps held a 35-13 shot advantage in the second and third quarters, while also outpacing Virginia 18-10 in shots on goal. That put pressure on Matthew Nunes to make saves. They also used consistent ball and off-ball movement to penetrate Virginia’s man and zone coverages.

“We fell into a zone. For those who know me and my coaching style, I despise zone defense. … It slowed down Maryland a bit, but we knew we had to find something else because the first time we played Maryland, they torched us,” Tiffany said. “The other end of the field, we struggled to create good offensive looks. We struggled to win match-ups today. Maryland’s defense was outstanding.”

This was Matt Moore’s last game at Virginia, ending his illustrious career. He finished with 277 points (No. 1 in program history), including 143 goals (No. 2) and 134 assists (No. 5). In his 11 tournament games, he had 43 points (tied for No. 3), 23 goals (tied for No. 6), and 20 assists (No. 4). Moore was selected with the fourth overall pick in the Premier Lacrosse League Draft, and he will join former teammate Jared Conners for the Archers Lacrosse Club.

The only other senior that has completed his eligibility is defensive midfielder Jack Peele. The Cavaliers will welcome back a lot of the key contributors from this year’s team, including Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Connor Shellenberger, faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla, goalie Matthew Nunes, and more. Nunes came to Virginia as the No. 1 ranked goalie in the 2021 recruiting cycle according to Inside Lacrosse. He had some big shoes to fill, as he replaced 2019 Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament Alex Rode in net. He finished his freshman campaign with 159 saves, the most by any Virginia freshman in history.

With so many returning players, there’s a clear picture of the 2022 season and what’s ahead when preparation for 2023 begins.

Looking back on the season, other than the two losses to Maryland, Virginia has to be happy with how the season transpired. The 6-0 start to the season was its best since the 2014 season. After falling to Maryland the first time, the Cavaliers faltered, losing two of their next four games. Injuries and fatigue were major factors to the team’s downfall, but it would hang on to win out the last three regular season matchups.

Against Brown, Virginia looked like it was going to be able to compete with Maryland in the rematch. The fast-paced, aggressive play from the Bears, added in with the rowdy Providence crowd, gave the Cavaliers an opportunity for a building block win. Although UVA was still handled by the Terps, this was definitely