Maryland men’s lacrosse goalie Logan McNaney still felt the sting of losing in the national title game the previous year even as the Terrapins rolled through their opponents during the 2022 season.
There was a sense of unfinished business.
McNaney helped pave the way for Maryland’s postseason run, which culminated in a 9-7 victory against seventh-ranked Cornell in the national championship game. He was named the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament after finishing with 61 saves in four games and 36 in the Final Four.
“I try to go into every game with the same mentality, but I knew this week was going to be different because of the heat and hydration,” McNaney said. “I knew I had to step it up.”
Maryland finished the year 18-0 and set a Division I record for most wins in a season without a loss, becoming the first undefeated Division I men’s lacrosse champion since 2006 when Virginia authored a 17-0 campaign. Princeton (1997), North Carolina (1991) and Johns
Hopkins (2005) also finished undefeated and won national titles in the past 32 years.
It was the Terrapins’ fourth NCAA title — they previously won in 1973, 1975, and 2017 — and their 13th championship overall. The program won nine USILA crowns.
This year’s Maryland team has an argument as the best team in the history of college lacrosse. The players are going to leave that argument to others. They are just happy to enjoy the championship after last season’s disappointing finish when they went 15-0 before losing to Virginia, 17-16, in the title game.
“Whether people want to say we’re the best team ever, we’re national champions,” midfielder Anthony DeMaio said. “That’s all that matters.”
DeMaio scored four goals in the first half of the title game against Cornell, and Maryland led 7-2 at the break. Cornell was just 2-of-22 shooting in the first half, mostly because of McNaney, who made 10 saves.
“We knew going into the game we had a solid game plan,” McNaney said. “We knew their guys were very capable of moving the ball around, dodging our shorties, our long sticks, but we knew that they were going to spin the ball around, cut, move around, kind of make us turn our heads a little bit, slide. But we had a good game plan going into it.”
Maryland continued to pull away in the second half and led 9-3 at the end of the third quarter. However, heat and fatigue began to catch up with the Terrapins and Cornell cut the lead to 9-7 with just minutes left in the fourth quarter.
McNaney made a couple of big stops down the stretch and Maryland held on for the victory, setting off a raucous celebration that spilled into the stands.
“Our defense did a great job,” McNaney said. “We over-communicated. That was kind of what we were trying to do out there. It was a little loud.”
McNaney will be back for his senior season after garnering USA Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse All-American honors this year. He went 18-0 with an 8.44 goals-against average and .597 save percentage. It marked a continuation of what McNaney started last year, when he went 15-1 with a 9.89 goals-against average and .522 save percentage.
However, no game was bigger or better than the national championship game against Cornell for McNaney and the rest of his teammates, who dealt with disappointment last year.
Tewaaraton Award winner Logan Wisnauskas (Boys’ Latin) finished his career with 205 goals, which ranks fourth all time in the history of Division I men’s college lacrosse. He passed Chris Gray (204 at Boston University and North Carolina) during the national title game. Wisnauskas became the first Terp with 100 points in a season, as he broke Jared Bernhardt’s single-season record of 99 set last season. He finished with 103 points (61 goals, 42 assists).
Since 2011 under head coach John Tillman, the Terps have made every NCAA Tournament and earned nine Championship Weekend appearances.
“It’s nice to see guys smiling at the end considering where we were 364 days ago,” Tillman said. “We had so many guys working together, so many guys willing to sacrifice. We expected it to be hard and we kind of hung on, kind of grinded it out. But I am happy for our state, our program and our school.”
Maryland will reload for the 2023 season and try to make a run at another title. Tillman has a solid group of returning players and incoming freshmen ready to carry the torch.
The road to a national title is tough. But the end result is unparalleled.
“I’ve never felt this in my life before,” Maryland defenseman Brett Makar said. “This kind of feeling is really indescribable. I’m getting teared up just thinking about how much it took to get back here.”
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics