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Turtle Power (Snap Judgments: 2017 D1 Men’s Lacrosse Final)

Robert Cole/ALOST
It was party time for tournament Most Outstanding Player Tim Muller (14) and the Terrapins as the clocked hit zero, as they won the school's first national championship since 1975 win today's win over Ohio State. (Robert Cole/ALOST)
It was party time for tournament Most Outstanding Player Tim Muller (14) and the Terrapins as they won the school’s first national championship since 1975 with today’s win over Ohio State. (Robert Cole/ALOST)

 

FOXBORO, MA — For over four decades, the Maryland Terrapins’ men’s lacrosse program knew what the top of the mountain looked like, but never were able to get the best glimpse of it – from the very top.

That finally changed this afternoon, as the top-seeded Terps won their first national championship since 1975 with a 9-6 triumph over No. 3 Ohio State in the championship game at Foxboro, breaking a championship drought that seemed to weigh on the great lacrosse program like an anchor. At this time last year, the Maryland saw its hopes of a title be dashed in the title game in Philadelphia at the hands of North Carolina.

There was no denying the Terps on this rainy afternoon in New England.

“It really hasn’t sunk in, but all they’ve done since August, given where we were last year and having been in this spot and losing a heartbreaker, there was a couple different ways we could go, and we could have let last year’s loss basically impact this year,” said Maryland head coach John Tillman. “And I think it speaks to the leadership of this group and their ability to kind of put things behind them and move forward to give us a chance this year.”

Though the Terrapins showed all season long that they were the best team in the country, they had to grind out a victory in the soggy conditions, with leading scorer Matt Rambo only contributing one goal and one assist in the game. The Terps, however, showed their depth, with Adam DiMillo, who came into the game with only three goals on the season, scored the first and last goals of a 4-0 spurt to close the first half to give the Terps a 5-2 lead at intermission.

“It was certainly a team win,” said Tillman. “Wasn’t pretty, but I’m certainly proud of how hard they played, and that’s been a staple.”

What the Terrapins excelled in the most today was when it was on the defensive end, not only holding the Buckeyes to just two first-half goals but keeping Ohio State from scoring for 24:15 between the first and third quarters, allowing Maryland to build a lead that the Buckeyes could not overcome.

“I think we just did what we always do,” said Terrapins senior defender Tim Muller, who won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. “We just played fundamental Maryland defense. You’ve got these two guys on the end, Isaiah [Davis-Allen] and Nick [Manis] controlling the D-mid stop, and we didn’t try to do anything we don’t normally try to do. And [face-off men Jon] Garino and Austin [Henningsen] giving us a lot of possession time was definitely pretty helpful, allowing us to be fresh on our side so when the ball came down we could play up speed if we wanted to.”

Along with the dominance defensively, it was Garino who also have Maryland a spark from the face-off X, winning 10 of his 14 draws after replacing Henningsen, who went just 1-for-5 to start the contest.

Ohio State’s high-scoring attack trio of Tre Leclaire, Eric Fannell and Jack Jasinski combined for just two points, with Fannell and Jasinski going scoreless. Fannell, who scored six goals in the quarterfinal win against Duke, did not register a point despite seven shots in the game.

“Yeah, you get a lot of respect for Maryland’s defense,” said Ohio State midfielder Tyler Pfister. “And I think we put ourselves in some tough positions with the way that we wanted to play and definitely wanted them to play us back. But I don’t know if it was anything that they were doing, necessarily. It’s just sometimes our inability to execute the scheme and things like that. But definitely credit Maryland and their preparation in it as well.”

Not only did Maryland win its first national championship since 1975, it snapped a nine-game losing streak in national championship games in that span as they are now champions for the third time in school history. It also helps to erase coming up short in the national title game the previous two seasons and in four of the last six before 2017.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Tillman. “In kind of quiet moments just being transparent, I remember two years ago being in here and I think we were adjacent to Denver’s locker room, and I remember being up here with Matt Dunn and a couple other guys. We could hear them celebrating, and it just, man, it just kind of ripped your heart out. Our kids were in tears and all that. Sometimes you reflect on those things. It hasn’t really hit. Obviously, hugged the coaches and our staff. And some of our staff is in here. We just have — our coaching staff sacrifices so much. Just Christian Brown’s in here, and our athletic director, Kevin Anderson, we have so many people that help us do what we do that people don’t know about. So, hug them, thank them. I think that’s really the first thing that I thought of.”

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