MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

It was an enormous weekend for University of Maryland athletics, as the baseball team was selected as the No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament as well as the top seed and the host school for one of the first-round regionals, the College Park Regional, for the first time in school history.

That the Terps (45-12) were selected to host a regional in carrying one of the top three RPIs in the country is rather indicative to some of us (somewhat bias as we may be) they should be seeded higher overall than 15, but that is a bark for another time, because the news about Maryland baseball is huge enough on its own merits.

Maryland baseball, making its second consecutive tournament appearance, fifth since 2014 and eighth in school history, is a player on the big stage, baby, and there are still too many of us out here who never dreamed we’d ever see this realization come to fruition. Yet, here we are. We have. We are.

So if Maryland baseball is a player, then Maryland men’s lacrosse is king, and this is a realization so many of us have always dreamed of seeing come to fruition again, and after entirely too many Memorial Day disasters in the last dozen years or so, Terps alumni and fans alike were treated to the most delicious of appetizers for our Memorial Day picnics when the top-seeded Terps lacrosse team completed one of the rare undefeated seasons in college lacrosse history in defeating Cornell, 9-7, in the national championship game.

The win marks the school’s fourth NCAA title just one year after the Terps’ perfect record was spoiled in the national championship by Virginia, 17-16.

Maryland goalie Logan McNaney was the hero in making 17 saves to cap a brilliant postseason and was named the NCAA tournament’s most outstanding player. And given the afternoon he experienced last Memorial Day, it was impossible to feel happier or more proud for a young man than we did for McNaney on Monday.

The Terps also claimed their second championship in seven title game appearances under Coach John Tillman and became the first undefeated champion since Virginia in 2006. The Terps’ 18 wins are the most by an undefeated team in NCAA history.

The Terps have won 35 of their past 36 games dating from the 2020 season, with the lone defeat coming in last season’s title game, which would have been excruciating enough, yet remains even more so for Maryland because it came at the hands of Virginia.

All of which is what made Monday afternoon’s outcome all the more pleasing and heartwarming. Maryland was rarely challenged though the 2022 season, playing just three close matches the entire year, with two of those being the final two in the Final Four, which, of course, is the way it is supposed to work.

That, however, eased no Maryland anxiety on Monday as the Terps’ 9-2 lead kept dwindling down to the eventual final of 9-7. Cornell was on the move; the Big Red had all of the momentum and had the Terps on their heels as, frankly, they were completely gassed by the middle of the fourth quarter.

Yet Maryland won two critical faceoffs and was able to eliminate clock with a pair of long offensive possessions and held on for the championship just as it had five years ago in its 9-6 win over Ohio State in the 2017 title game.

Some may be quick to point out that Cornell simply ran out of time. Well, as Maryland alumni, boosters and fans the world over will tell you, so be it. Nobody ever feels sorry for Maryland when things don’t go our way.

Is this Maryland team, which was so dominant for the entire season, to be considered one of the greatest lacrosse teams of all-time? There is no way of saying who had the best team of all-time, but that this Maryland team is even considered in the conversation is proof that it was one of the best of all-time.

Since the early and mid-1970s when the late Buddy Beardmore coached the Terps to a pair of national championships, the Maryland lacrosse mantra has been “Be the Best.” And while the Terps have had their fill of unfortunate luck in a handful of national title games, overall, they have always been in the conversation for being the best.

What happened on Monday when Maryland lacrosse held on to again cement itself as the best of this season was something that was just so sweet to see and to experience, not just as an alum or a supporter, but as a sports fan in general, because it’s what we like to see in our sports.

For if you had witnessed the pain Maryland lacrosse endured on Memorial Day of last year and then watched the purpose with which these guys played during each game of this season, you understand they have truly earned being the very best there is for this and for many seasons before it.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT