2014 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament: Maryland Rallies Against Cornell, Shocks Red in Last Second Win

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

It took a determined second half from the Terps to overcome a disastrous first half performance.

Maryland entered their NCAA Tournament date with Cornell facing questions about a stagnating offense that meandered through the closing stretch of the Terps' season. In the first half against the Red, Maryland seemed to have no response to the issues plaguing an ailing -- and young -- offensive unit that put double-digits on the board just once -- against Notre Dame in the regular season -- in its last four games against teams participating in The Big Barbeque:

  • The Terrapins endured a brutal 23:59 scoring drought to open the game. Maryland looked completely lost against a Cornell defense that was limiting preferable looks, failing to move the ball and carrying the bean into situations that weren't conducive to scoring. In that stretch, the Terps took 15 shots that failed to find the back of the net with Christian Knight -- the Red's freshman goalkeeper -- making six saves. Maryland didn't exacerbate their futile offensive efforts with turnovers (the Terps committed only two while in the desert), but ruined eight offensive opportunities in a pace-deflated half with an abysmal offensive display. The Terps also failed to convert on two man-up opportunities.
  • Mike Chanenchuk -- Maryland's primary offensive hub -- finally got the Terps on the board at the 6:01 mark of the second quarter, pushing the ball past Knight in a flag-down situation. The tally drew Maryland within 5-1, but the goal wasn't the onset of an explosion from the Terrapins.
  • After Chanenchuk's goal, Maryland took two shots -- one saved -- and committed a turnover in the half's final 6:01.

Maryland was completely dominated, partly due to the fact that its offense could not find any purpose and partly due to the fact that Cornell's defense refused to give the Terps anything on credit. The Terps and Red went into the half with Cornell holding a 5-1 advantage (thanks, in part, to Matt Donovan scoring three consecutive goals for Cornell in the second period). Maryland's defense did its part, but the Terps were outplayed --- in the overall -- by a motivated and capable Red team.

The second half would be a different 30 minutes for Maryland, one where the Terps used a short pop early in the penultimate period to gain garound and leveraged grit late in regulation to earn a mind-melting 8-7 win.

Maryland came out of the intermission with verve, generating momentum in a 1:42 stretch that featured three goals from the Terps (one in a man-up posture), the latter two driven by Chanenchuk assists. Maryland's offense seemed to have a different look early in the third period, moving the ball with more clarity and exhibiting a sharpness that was missing in the first half. Helping the Terps' scoring spurt was some enviable possession play: The second goal in the push was immediately derived from a cross-checking penalty drawn on Jay Carlson's goal that started the rush; the third goal came from a Charlie Raffa faceoff win, allowing Chanenchuk and Connor Cannizzaro to rip the Red's defense apart. Cornell would stop the run just over two minutes later with a man-up goal, but the game had a completely different volition compared to the first half: Maryland looked competent at both ends of the field, trailing -- 6-4 -- but within striking distance.

Matt Rambo would open the scoring in the final period, driving a low bullet past Knight to register a man-up tally with 11:36 remaining in regulation. Dan Litner would answer for Cornell on a Donovan helper just over a minute later, giving the Big Red a two-goal lead. The bucket -- Cornell's seventh of the day -- would be the Red's last, going into a silent period that mirrored the team's finish against Pennsylvania in the semifinal round of the Ivy League Tournament. The foundation was laid for a final climb for Maryland: Rambo answered Litner's goal just one minute after built a multi-goal cushion, and Cannizzaro knotted the scoreboard at seven 1:05 after Rambo’s tally. A two-goal lead turned into a tied game in just 2:05.

The teams meandered through fruitless possessions until Connor Hunt caused a turnover against Chanenchuk with less than three minutes left on the clock. Cornell cleared and start its possession, one that had the feel of a game-deciding opportunity. Connor Buczek unloaded a blast that was blocked out in front, caroming off of a Maryland player's helmet and rocketing toward the sideline. The Terps were able to win the race to the sideline for the ball, giving the Terrapins the final possession in the game. In that possession -- out of a timeout with 53 seconds left on the clock -- Henry West drove to the crease from "X," having the ball squirt free on a block/checked stick that spit the ball free. Chanenchuk pounced on the groundball, allowing Maryland to take another timeout with nine seconds remaining. Out of the break, West started a dodge from the top of the right alley, whipped a cross-field skip pass to Chanenchuk. Chanenchuk set his feet in space and blew the ball past Knight.

It was Maryland's first lead in the game, coming with only two seconds left in regulation. The Terps 8-7 win did not seem probable with both teams in the locker room at the intermission, but Maryland's halftime orange slices gave the Terps the 7-2 advantage the team needed in the second half to advance to the quarterfinal round.

TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE

TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE: CORNELL v. MARYLAND
METRIC CORNELL MARYLAND
Possession Margin -5 +5
Raw Offensive Efficiency 28.00 26.67
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 28.00% 19.05%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.00 1.40
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 36.00 23.33
Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions 25.45 29.09
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 43.33 32.00
Team Save Percentage 61.90% 53.33%
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