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Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

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USA Today Sports

Maryland lacrosse vanquishes championship demons with defining victory over Ohio State

For the fifth time in seven seasons, the Maryland Terrapins had plans on Memorial Day.

But they didn't just have plans, they had dreams, too.

Dreams of tossing their helmets, sticks and gloves into the air as they celebrate the NCAA Men's Lacrosse National Championship.

But in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016, Memorial Day ended with no dreams, just nightmares.

RELATED: TERPS MEN'S, WOMEN'S LACROSSE PULLS OFF 2017 TITLE SWEEP

Despite nine appearances in the National Championship Game since 1975, the Terrapins had zero titles to show for.

It had become a trend. An ugly, embarrassing trend for the largest university in the largest hotspot of American lacrosse.

But on Monday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the Terrapins vanquished 42 years of championship nightmares, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 9-6 for the program's first national championship since that 1975 victory.

The two Big Ten teams had met twice prior to Monday's championship game, with both teams earning an 11-10 victory.

But junior goalie Dan Morris, who had just 17 saves and 21 goals against in the two previous meetings against the Buckeyes, put on a dazzling performance, recording 11 saves, including two huge stops in the final five minutes to turn the Terps' title dreams into a reality.

The Terps' final drive to the title came in the fourth quarter. It began with Matt Rambo, the program's all-time leading scorer, senior caption and heavy favorite to capture the 2017 Tewaaraton Award. 

With just over 10 minutes remaining and the Terps up 7-3, the burly Pennsylvania native drove to the goal from behind the cage and hurled an unbalanced, fade-away shot past Buckeyes goalie Tom Carey. It wasn't just the Tewaaraton Trophy moment from Rambo, but it was also Maryland's championship moment. It was an image that will likely be plastered on the walls inside the new Cole Field House.

But as is the case in lacrosse, the fastest game on two feet, the Buckeyes responded just 12 seconds later. It was their first goal of the second half and it gave Ohio State new life. The Terps would not be able to finally get over the national championship hump without having to fight through nerves, butterflies, and a five-goal lead that quickly became just a three-goal lead with plenty of time remaining. Following the Jake Withers goal to make it 8-4, Tre LeClaire beat Morris to cut the Maryland lead to 8-5 with 5:01 remaining.

Three minutes later, Johnny Pearson beat Morris to make it 8-6.

The Buckeyes had gone nearly 20 minutes without a goal but fired off three in eight minutes to serve as the last true obstacle for the Terrapins. 

However, Tim Rotanz, who finished with a game-high three goals, buried an empty-net goal with 59 seconds to pass the final test. As the seconds ticked off the clock, the Maryland bench began jumping up and down. Alumni, near and far, exhaled and began to celebrate.

Even John Tillman, the Terps stoic head coach who entered Monday with an 0-4 record in national championship games since joining Maryland in 2010, took a deep breath and could be seen cracking a smile, if only a slight one.

The Terps had plans for Monday, and for the first time since 1975, they followed through.

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Maryland's strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigns after the death of Jordan McNair

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Maryland's strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resigns after the death of Jordan McNair

On Tuesday during a press conference, the University of Maryland announced the removal of head strength and conditioning coach Rick Court.

This announcement comes in the wake of disturbing details leading up to, and including, the death of football player Jordan McNair.

It was also revealed that head football coach D.J. Durkin remains on administrative leave according to athletic director Damon Evans.  

Prior to this announcement, Court resigned and reached a settlement with the university.

During the press conference, university president Wallace Loh also stated that the university would take responsibility for McNair's death.

"The university accepts legal and moral responsibility for the mistakes that our training staff made on that fateful workout day of May 29, which of course led subsequently to his death," Loh said.

"Some of the actions of our athletic training staff, not the coaching staff, the athletic training staff, they basically misdiagnosed the situation. No vital signs were taken, other safeguard actions that should have been taken were not.”

McNair's died as the result of a heat stroke that occurred during the aforementioned workout. Collapsing on the field due to exhaustion, the 19-year-old suffered a seizure and the authorities were not contacted for nearly an hour. McNair would pass two weeks later.

Not much information on the internal investigation was released by the school up until the latest report from ESPN this past Friday. In this report, ESPN detailed a “toxic culture” that ultimately led to the death of the young football player. Court was at the center of these remarks and was given a lot of the blame for what happened.

After the allegations on Friday, Maryland put Durkin on leave due to "allegations of inappropriate behavior" along with other staffers that included Court. 

Matt Canada is currently the interim head coach of the Terps in his first season with the team. Canada was named Durkin's offensive coordinator this season after being fired from the same position at LSU. 

Maryland kicks off their football season in less than three weeks, hosting Texas on September 1. 

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Governor Hogan issues statement on D.J. Durkin, Maryland football

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Governor Hogan issues statement on D.J. Durkin, Maryland football

D.J. Durkin, head football coach at the University of Maryland, was placed on paid administrative leave Saturday as the school investigates claims of abuse and actions which may have led to the June death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair. 

The Randallstown, Md. native collapsed during an outdoor team workout on May 29 and died two weeks later. ESPN is reporting his death to be the result of an official heatstroke. 

On Sunday, Governor Larry Hogan shared his thoughts on the matter: 

Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland, issued his own statement Saturday sharing "I am profoundly disturbed by the media reports yesterday about verbally abusive and intimidating conduct by Maryland football coaches and staff towards our student-athletes on the team." 

Loh also announced Matt Canada will serve as interim head football coach.

Durkin is preparing to enter his third season at Maryland. The team begins the 2018 season September 1 at home hosting Texas. 

 

MORE TERPS NEWS: 

Durkin Under Fire: Mayland football coach DJ Durkin placed on leave

Details Emerging: New ESPN article provides disturbing behind the scenes details about Maryland's football program