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2012 NCAA Lacrosse Tournament: Maryland Uses Explosions and Fire to Advance to the National Championship Game

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Maryland, the flagship university of a state that actually had its legislature declare lacrosse as one of its two official sports, is off to Memorial Monday to chase its first NCAA title since 1975. I wasn't even born in 1975, so I'm assuming that the last time that the Terrapins were the kings of college lacrosse people were still riding dinosaurs to work.

The Terps were a menace all day, riding a powerfully efficient offense and a lot of suspect defensive lapses from Duke to put away the Blue Devils, 16-10. Three Maryland players -- Joe Cummings, Drew Snider, and Kevin Cooper -- registered at least four points at the end of the day, which is both a testament to how well the Terrapins shared the load and also how much trouble Duke had at identifying and limiting offensive opportunities from their ACC rivals. It was an offensive clinic from Maryland at Gillette Stadium -- even with some tempo, which makes my heart sing -- and Duke (both in the cage and with their field players) never responded with an answer.

(Unless the answer they were looking for was "Overcommit and watch the pretty ball fly through the restraining box." If so, then the Blue Devils got exactly what they wanted.)

Outside of the Terps offensive smoke show, Niko Amato stood strong for extended stretches throughout the day. The redshirt sophomore finished the day with eight saves and, really, did a lot of Maryland's heavy lifting in the back. To help stymie an offensive team like Duke bodes well for a Maryland team that has been looking for increased consistency in the keeper, although he will be strongly tested on Memorial Monday. Of course, playing behind Goran Murray, Jesse Bernhardt, and Mike Ehrhardt tends to help.

With the win, the Terrapins will meet Loyola on Monday for the national championship. It's the first time that Championship Weekend has featured an all-Maryland final since 1979, which should make your mind explode. ESPN has the broadcast from Gillette Stadium starting at 1:00 P.M. You don't need to R.S.V.P., but it'd be nice if you did.

KEY STATISTICS

Pace: 67 total possessions.
Possession Margin: +3 (Maryland)
Unadjusted Notre Dame Offensive Efficiency: 47.51
Maryland Shooting Percentage: 55.17%
Maryland Shots per Offensive Possession: 0.83
Duke EMO Conversion Rate: 0.17% (1/6)
Maryland Man-Down Situations per Defensive Possession: 18.75%
Turnovers per Offensive Possession: Maryland -- 42.86%; Duke -- 37.50%