Maryland, Ohio St. meet in NCAA lacrosse championship
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Maryland is hoping a third straight appearance in the NCAA men's lacrosse championship will finally end a 42-year title drought for the Terrapins.
The top-seeded Terps face Ohio State for the championship, a rematch of the Big Ten tournament title game and the third meeting between the schools this spring. After splitting the first two, the winner of Monday's 1 p.m. ET game at Gillette Stadium will take home the biggest trophy of all.
''We've had some pretty close games with them over the past three years that we've been playing in conference with them,'' Maryland defenseman Tim Muller said. ''All the games have been pretty tough.''
Ohio State beat Maryland 11-10 in overtime on April 22, then Maryland won 11-10 in the Big Ten championship on May 4.
Ohio State coach Nick Meyers said it was a challenge to turn around the Buckeyes' spirits after the conference tournament loss and start preparing for the NCAA tournament. Ohio State responded with wins over Loyola, Maryland and Duke to earn its first semifinal appearance. The Buckeyes are in unfamiliar territory again in their finals debut, but know who they're up against.
''We have a ton of respect for Maryland. That was a heavyweight slugfest that you saw in the Big Ten championship,'' Meyers said.
''We just know that they bring out the best in us. You have to play your best lacrosse if you want to try to go out there and beat Maryland. I think that, more than contempt, is what it brings out.''
Maryland (15-3) is in the title game for the 14th time in school history, but the Terps haven't won it all since 1975.
Ohio State, of course, has never been this far. The Buckeyes (16-4), in the NCAA tournament for the sixth time, won their first national semifinal Saturday, beating Towson 11-10 after rallying with four straight goals late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
While conceding an edge to Maryland in finals experience, the Buckeyes have already shown they can play a tight game with the Terps. They don't expect to have any jitters Monday after winning a nailbiter in the semifinals.
''We're familiar with them, but at the same time they're really familiar with us. There are going to be some storms,'' Ohio State midfielder Jake Withers said. ''Coach always likes to say there are always going to be storms in the weather. I think it showed in the game yesterday; if we don't panic and stay the course, things will turn out in our favor.''
The Terps also clinched their berth in the championship with a tight semifinal, edging Denver 9-8 on Saturday night in a rematch of the 2015 NCAA title game. Maryland lost to the Pioneers 10-5 in the championship two years ago, then fell to North Carolina last year in the championship.
With each championship loss, the current Terps have been reminded of the time that has passed since Maryland won national championships in 1973 and `75.
''I think after these past few years, it's built a mental toughness and physical toughness through those losses,'' junior midfielder Connor Kelly said. ''We're a team that tries to battle adversity at all costs. So having these failures, we're trying to turn these negatives into positives.''