- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 3, 2004

Virginia’s lacrosse team endured plenty of pregame taunts from some Maryland football players. The Terrapins’ lacrosse team made the contest itself far more humiliating.

The top-ranked Terps embarrassed No.10 Virginia 11-2, capitalizing on impressive performances by attackman Xander Ritz (three goals, three assists) and goalie Tim McGinnis (17 saves) to clinch their first outright ACC regular-season title since 1998.

The victory provided a measure of revenge for Maryland’s 14-4 loss to the Cavaliers in last season’s national semifinals in Baltimore.

“We had all the motivation,” said Maryland defenseman Chris Passavia, whose team will be top-seeded at the ACC tournament later this month in Chapel Hill, N.C. “For all the seniors and alumni whose season was ended last year with that game, we wanted to make a statement. We felt like we were the better team, and we wanted to show it.”

Maryland (8-0, 3-0 ACC) controlled every facet of the game. The Terps, often suspect on faceoffs this season, won six of eight draws in the first half to dominate possession. Virginia took only one shot in the first quarter, was 5-for-11 on clears in the first half and never established any offensive rhythm.

Even more startling was Maryland’s gaping 22-8 advantage in first-half groundballs — a clear indication that the Terps simply outworked the Cavaliers (3-5, 0-1), who were coming off an upset of then-No.1 Johns Hopkins.

“We didn’t come out with intensity,” Virginia goalie Tillman Johnson said. “We didn’t come out like we did against Hopkins. We just looked flat and things weren’t falling for us. We weren’t hustling for groundballs. The little things were what was keeping us from winning this game.”

Virginia also was done in by some big things, such as Maryland’s admirably patient offense. With the Cavaliers content to fall into a zone during stretches of the first half, the Terps spent much of their time setting up smart shots.

The workmanlike approach yielded impressive results. Ritz scooped up a groundball in an unsettled situation at midfield and passed ahead to the open Joe Walters, who buried a 20-yard shot with a second left in the first quarter to put the Terps up 4-0.

Sophomore Bill McGlone extended the Terps’ lead to 6-1 before halftime with one of the season’s most astounding plays. After losing the ball on a stick check, McGlone regained possession, spun off a roll dodge that left defenseman Steve Holmes sprawled on the ground and fired a shot past the stunned Johnson (14 saves).

It was an even more miserable day for the Cavaliers’ vaunted attack. John Christmas, Matt Ward and Joe Yevoli were shut out as Virginia was held to its lowest output since an 11-2 loss to North Carolina in 1984.

McGinnis, who now has a .680 save percentage this season, turned in another gaudy performance. However, the Terps’ close defense of Passavia, David Wagner and Lee Zink took a lot of pressure off the graduate student goalie, forcing the Cavaliers into low-percentage outside shots.

The victory boosted Maryland’s already imposing resume. The only undefeated team left in Division I, the Terps also claim road defeats of Duke, Georgetown and North Carolina entering next week’s showdown with Navy (7-1), which will likely enter the top five after a 7-5 win at Georgetown.

“I like our guys,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. “We play hard. I don’t know how good we are, but we compete and we’re solid.”

The loss stemmed Virginia’s momentum following consecutive overtime defeats of Towson and Hopkins. The Cavaliers can afford to lose only one more game before assuring a losing season, which would make them the first NCAA defending champion to miss the tournament since Cornell in 1972.

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