For some of us, this Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer. For others, it marks the end of the College Lacrosse season. It’s Final Four Weekend! And guess who is back? That’s right, the Maryland Terrapins. The Terps will be making their 4th consecutive trip to Final Four Weekend and will still be looking to end their championship drought, which is now up to 42 after falling just short last year.
Maryland is heading to Final Four as the #1 overall seed. They were as impressive as any team in the nation. Some of their accomplishments include a 3rd straight regular season conference title, their 2nd straight conference tournament title, and have wins against top programs such as Yale, Navy, Albany (x2), UNC, Penn State (x2), Johns Hopkins, and Ohio State. Led by Run DMC (Dylan Maltz, Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock), they boast one of the most fierce attacks in the country scoring just under 13 goals per game. The Terps are also led by one of the best midfielders in the sport in Isaiah Davis-Allen who was just named to his 2nd First Team All-America selection. This year’s version of the Terps is loaded and this will be one of their best chances ever at grabbing a title. Their window may also be closing as all of Run DMC and Davis-Allen are set to graduate this spring.
The Terps first challenger will be Denver. The two teams did not meet this season but they have seen each other on this stage plenty of times. The most recent meeting back in 2015 when Denver beat Maryland to win the championship. Denver is the #5 overall seed in this tournament and put together a solid 13-3 regular season. They have beaten Air Force and Notre Dame to make it back to Final Four Weekend after missing out in 2016. Denver also comes into this weekend boasting one of the most powerful scoring offenses in the country scoring just under 14 goals per game. The Pioneers scoring attack is led by Senior Connor Cannizzaro and Ethan Walker, who both average 2+ goals per game. The Pioneers also lead the nation in face-off win percentage behind Trevor Baptiste and his .756 win percentages. Baptiste has the ability to control the game from the face-off circle and keep his team on the attack. You also can’t look past their head coach, Bill Tierney, who owns seven national championships himself.
The other Final Four matchup includes Ohio State and Towson. Ohio State has taken the sport by somewhat of a surprise this season. The Buckeyes finished 2nd in the Big Ten during the regular season and lost in the Big Ten tournament championship game to Maryland. They will be making their first trip to Final Four Weekend this season after beating Loyola (MD) and Duke in their first two tournament games. Ohio State finds their success somewhat differently than Maryland and Denver. The Buckeyes have one of the best scoring defenses in the game allowing only 8.26 goals per game. They are also extremely efficient at the face-off circle with a win percentage of .631.
The Buckeyes challengers are the Towson Tigers. Towson (also a Maryland team) has been led by their stout defense. The Tigers have allowed just 7.44 goals per game which is good for 3rd in the nation. They come into this weekend as an unranked team with wins over #7 Penn State and #2 Syracuse. The Tigers were able to upset both of these teams with the stellar defensive play and timely goal scoring. Towson only scores 9.50 goals per game but they have two dangerous attackers in Joe Seider and fellow Westminster Owl alumni, Ryan Drenner as both scored 25+ goals this season. Drenner is also one of the best at finding his teammates and creating scoring opportunities from the X as he averaged just under 2 assists per game. Towson has been the cinderella story of this years tournament and will need to ride their strong defense if they want to keep this dream going.
For the past four years, Maryland has made the trip to the Final Four Weekend. They’ve been the runner-up two straight years. They haven’t won a championship since 1975 despite 20 trips to the Final Four since that weekend. The drought will hit 42 years if the come up empty again. The Terps senior class has left heart broken for the last three years and will be looking to end their careers with finally capturing that elusive title.
The first semi-final matchup will be played between Ohio State and Towson at 12:30pm and will be followed by Maryland and Denver. These two matchups will be played very differently but both should be full of excitement. Towson and Ohio State will both be looking to win their first ever Division I lacrosse titles. Denver will be looking to bring home their 2nd championship in 3 years. Maryland will of course be looking to end their championship drought and bring that glory back to College Park.
I convince myself every year that the Terps are finally going to do it. This year is no different for me. I again only have one prediction for this weekend. Terps, Terps, and more Terps.
Maryland, we’re all still behind you…
Photo Credit: Maryland Athletics