“How long must we sing this song?”
It was a “Bloody Sunday” indeed for the three Maryland teams in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament. Sixth seeded Maryland was blown out by Cornell, upstart Towson was rocked at Ohio State and defending national champion Loyola fell to Duke in double overtime after coughing up a four goal second half advantage.
The rest of the NCAA Tournament isn’t going to be cancelled, it will just seem irrelevant to those of us in this area. (Other than the handful that will still wander to Byrd Stadium next Saturday to see Ohio State, Cornell, Syracuse and Yale, that is. I imagine the crowd size will make a Maryland/James Madison football game look like a packed house.) It is particularly disappointing considering the 2012 NCAA Championship Game was an all-Old Line State affair between the Greyhounds and Terrapins.
For the Tigers, the loss marked the end of a season that lasted two or three games longer than anyone could have expected after a 3-5 start. (Worse, a 3-5 start that included a loss to High Point-playing only their second game ever in program history and the first of only three wins all season for the Panthers.) Shawn Nadelen’s team made great strides in the CAA his second season as head coach and the blowout loss to the Buckeyes was to be expected by most. It would be hard for Towson fans to get away with labeling themselves as particularly disappointed with the result.
For the Hounds, the nature of their season-ending setback at the hands of the Blue Devils had to be considered particularly disappointing. Loyola had an 8-4 lead in the second half and appeared to have essentially clinched victory before Face-Off Specialist Blake Burkhart’s final minute goal was waived off because head coach Charley Toomey had called timeout just a split second earlier. Loyola was a legitimate contender to return to the Final Four, but the heartbreak shouldn’t be misconstrued as disappointment. What Loyola accomplished a season ago in Foxborough should have never been viewed as a measuring stick for the program’s success. It was a remarkable run unlikely to be accomplished with any sort of regularity. The Greyhounds had a very successful season (including their first win over Johns Hopkins since 1999) with a very tough end.
And then there’s the Terps. The same team that coming off two consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship Game was believed to be a legitimate national championship contender. After winning their rematch with the Greyhounds in Baltimore in February, the Terps took over the #1 ranking in both polls and held it almost exclusively until mid-April. Conversation within crowds of Maryland alums was set around the idea that this group was finally primed to claim the school’s first national championship since 1975.
1975…it seems more and more impossible every time I think about it. For what it’s worth, only eight schools have combined to win the 37 championships since Maryland last claimed lacrosse glory. Still, the drought remains staggering for the flagship university in the state most closely associated with the sport.
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