Controversial? Maybe. A comeback for the ages? Definitely.
The Virginia men’s lacrosse team, staring down near-certain defeat, blitzed the Maryland defense in the final 9:18 of regulation, scoring the final five goals — four in the last 3:25 — and sending the game to overtime at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Freshman FOGO Petey LaSalla (Miller Place) won the opening faceoff of the extra period, leading to Matt Moore’s game-winner just 45 seconds into OT. No. 3 Virginia won, 13-12, advancing to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia next Saturday to play in an NCAA semifinal against Duke.
LaSalla won eight of the final nine faceoffs, and the Cavaliers outshot the Terps 15-3 in the fourth quarter and OT.
“Petey LaSalla, what a heroic effort,” UVA coach Lars Tiffany said. “For a first-year, for him to do that against a team that is notoriously very good at the faceoff X. He just kept giving us those possessions so we could make that comeback happen.”
It was Michael Kraus’ rip with 1:01 remaining that tied the score, though it was met with some confusion. Kraus fired high toward the upper-right corner and the shot appeared to hit the lower portion of the corner pipe.
The ball ricocheted forward toward the midfield, prompting some players to play on as others celebrated. After a delayed reaction from the nearest official, it was ruled a goal.
Tiffany said he’s not in favor of instant replay, even after being made aware that the game’s broadcast showed one of Jared Bernhardt’s four goals for Maryland was counted even though he stepped in the crease.
“I do not enjoy instant replay, and anyone who knows me has heard me say that for a couple years,” Tiffany said. “We didn’t realize there was controversy in our game until after the game because we just don’t have those angles.”
Terps coach John Tillman had a different opinion when asked if he would be in favor of replay.
“Yeah, I would,” he said.
Ryan Conrad scored three of his four goals in a 5-0 run that tied the game at 12. The Cavaliers scored three goals in 44 seconds before Conrad’s man-up goal put them down 12-11. Tiffany said it was the goal from Ian Laviano (Laurel Hollow) that made the score 12-10 with 3:05 left that turned the tide.
“It’s happened all season,” Tiffany said. “We’ve been down, and you lean back on that. If you look back, we were down five against Notre Dame. … These men truly draw upon each other, and they lean on each other.”
The sentiment on the sideline is always one of confidence, Conrad said.
“Honestly, we don’t even need to say it,” Conrad said of how teammates react to facing late deficits. “We can do it. We know we can do it.”
Maryland (12-5) and Virginia (15-3) traded blows until the Terps broke free in the third quarter. After Dox Aitken tied the game at 7 for UVA, Maryland scored the next five goals for a 12-7 lead. Anthony DeMaio (four goals) scored twice during the spurt, but Maryland’s bid for a sixth straight Final Four appearance was crushed when Moore’s winner completed one of the biggest comebacks of the season.