- - Monday, May 25, 2015

PHILADELPHIA — Maryland was attempting to become the first team in over 20 years to win NCAA championships in men’s and women’s lacrosse. Denver aimed to become the first national champion located west of the Appalachian Mountains.

In the end, it was the Pioneers who made history.

Wesley Berg scored five goals and Ryan LaPlante had 13 saves as Denver won its first title, beating Maryland, 10-5, at Lincoln Financial Field.

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Five other players, including Maryland transfer Connor Cannizzaro, scored goals for Denver, which led, 5-3, at halftime and was never challenged in the final two quarters. Berg was chosen as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and he ended the season with a team-record 58 goals.

The victory gave Pioneers coach Bill Tierney his record seventh national title. He won six with Princeton, which he left after 22 seasons in 2009.

Matt Rambo had two goals and Kyle Bernlohr had 10 saves for the Terrapins (15-4), who were trying to win their first championship since 1975. After the school’s women’s lacrosse team defeated North Carolina in the title game on Sunday night, the Terrapins were trying to double up in championships for the first time since Princeton did so in 1994.

Maryland has now played in the championship game eight times since its last victory, including three times in the last five years, but yet again failed to hoist the trophy.

“I think that people talk about winning a championship, and that’s certainly one of our goals,” Maryland coach John Tillman told reporters. “We know how much it would mean to our school, our state, our alums, and I’m determined to just bust our hump to try to get it for them. I wanted it so bad for those kids because … we had a lot of kids that bought in and sold out, and that’s what hurts.”

The fourth-seeded Pioneers (17-2) beat top-seeded Notre Dame in overtime in the semifinals on Saturday, while Maryland (15-4), the No. 6 seed, topped local rival Johns Hopkins to advance.

Denver took a 4-1 lead in the first quarter as Berg scored the Pioneers’ first three goals, while LaPlante kept the Terrapins at bay with six saves over the first two quarters.

After an empty possession for the Terrapins to begin the third quarter, Miller recovered a rebound and sent a shot past Maryland goalie Kyle Bernlohr with 11:43 left in the period.

Miller’s first goal of the game set the tone for the rest of the half, and Denver’s defense continued to frustrate Maryland.

Just over three minutes later, Colin Woolford scored his 10th goal of the season for the Pioneers, and Berg scored on an assist from Miller for an 8-3 lead.
Rambo scored his 40th goal of the season with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter and didn’t find the back of the net again until Jay Carlson scored with 32 seconds to play. Bryan Cole and Colin Heacock also scored for the Terrapins.

Cannizzaro, the ACC freshman of the year last season at Maryland, transferred to Denver following the season and was eligible to play immediately because players do not have to sit out a year when given their release. He finished this season with a school-record 90 points, including 57 goals and 33 assists, and scored his lone goal on Monday with 1:24 remaining in the first quarter.

Sean Cannizzaro, Connor’s older brother, and Zach Miller and Erik Adamson also scored for Denver, which had lost in the Final Four in three of the last four years. Before the Pioneers’ victory, North Carolina was the school farthest west that had won a national championship.

“Just like Wesley carried us on his back for a few games here, I feel like we were carrying a burden around — and now it’s off,” Tierney told reporters afterward. “Now, we move on.”

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