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Back to back: Virginia wins thriller with Maryland, 17-16, repeats as national lacrosse champ

virginia lacrosse championship 2021
Photo courtesy NCAA Photos.

A 5-1 Maryland run got the Terps within one in the final seconds, but Virginia got one last stop from senior goalie Alex Rode to preserve a 17-16 win, and UVA’s second consecutive national title.

Luke Wierman won the final faceoff of the afternoon with 10 seconds left and raced down the middle of the pitch, directly at Rode, who made a body save in front of net with five seconds left.

UVA (14-4) was able to grab the rebound and clear.

“(Face Off Get Off) took a shot, and I was a little nervous, thought I owed my team a couple, and luckily it hit me in the body,” said Rode, who had 12 saves on the afternoon. “Defense played great, shooting that FOGO down the middle and giving them a shot that I hopefully can save. Really all power to them.”

The win denied Maryland (15-1) a conclusion to what would have been an undefeated season.

Freshman Connor Shellenberger and senior Matt Moore led UVA with four goals and two assists apiece.

“Looking up when we won and seeing my parents in the stands, it’s about as good as it gets,” said Shellenberger, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. “All the sacrifices that they made for me, and even just driving me to lacrosse when I was a little kid and letting me have that dream. I can’t thank them enough for supporting me and giving me this opportunity, and then to do it with this group of guys, these coaches, it’s literally what you dream of.

Jeff Conner added a hat trick for the Cavaliers.

With 33 goals between the teams, the game matched the 1975 title contest as the highest-scoring championship game in NCAA men’s lacrosse history.

The Cavaliers twice built leads of at least four goals, only to see the Terrapins come storming back each time. UVA scored six straight goals in the first half to take an 8-4 lead in the second quarter, but Maryland responded with three consecutive goals. UVA stopped the momentum swing on a Payton Cormier goal with 25 seconds left for a 9-7 halftime edge.

UVA stretched its lead to 16-11 on a Moore goal with 11:04 remaining in the game, but Maryland rattled off four straight goals over three-minute span to cut it to one with 3:57 remaining. Moore stopped the run with his fourth goal with 3:35 left for a 17-15 edge.

Maryland’s Anthony DeMaio scored with 10 seconds left, and Wierman won the ensuing faceoff and ran straight downfield and fired off a shot that Rode denied to finish off the dramatic win.

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