Ghitelman Slams Door on Terps in ACC Final
by Gary Lambrecht | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Game Blog
|ACC tournament MVP Adam Ghitelman made 16 saves Sunday, as No. 2 Virginia rolled to a 10-6 victory over No. 4 Maryland in the conference championship game.|
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Junior goalkeeper Adam Ghitelman has needed to apologize for little during his three-year run as a starter at the University of Virginia. Coming into Sunday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title game against Maryland, Ghitelman had won 34 of 39 games for the Cavaliers.
Yet, as he prepared last week for the tournament at Byrd Stadium, Ghitelman fixated on atoning for a stumble -- that four-save smudge on his season’s resume in an 11-10 victory over Maryland back on April 3 in College Park.
After recording 12 saves in Friday night’s semifinal win over Duke, Ghitelman got the rematch he wanted with the Terrapins. He celebrated his 21st birthday by stuffing Maryland with 16 saves, as No. 2 Virginia rolled to a 10-6 victory over the fourth-ranked Terps.
Virginia did a lot right while erasing an early, three-goal deficit and storming past Maryland. The Cavaliers (13-1) broke out their speed and patented transition game to great effect, attacked Maryland’s short-stick midfielders smartly, shot well and spread their scoring among seven different players.
But Virginia took a major step toward securing a top seed in the NCAA tournament because the Cavaliers’ defense dropped the hammer on Maryland. And the man swinging the weapon the hardest was Ghitelman, who was the easy choice for tournament MVP.
Atonement accomplished. Make Ghitelman’s career record 35-5.
“I think I have a knack for coming back from bad performances,” Ghitelman said. “During the week I was thinking about [that four-save game]. I wanted to see these guys again. I was seeing the ball well, and my defense was giving me shots I could handle. We covered a great attack today.”
Led by senior Ken Clausen, Virginia’s close defense smothered a Maryland offense that entered the contest shooting 31.3 percent and averaging 11.1 goals. Granted, the Terps were without attackman Will Yateman, who was held out after suffering a concussion in Friday’s 13-5 semifinal rout of North Carolina.
Still, Maryland’s attack of Grant Catalino, Ryan Young and Travis Reed -- the team’s top three scorers -- was barely audible Sunday. The trio managed a combined two goals and one assist, and Clausen completely shut down Young, the engine and distributor that makes the Maryland offense fire.
With Maryland’s midfield unable to make up any difference, the Terps died a slow death after taking a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Maryland scored three goals the rest of the way, and scored just two goals during a torturous span of 52:23.
Ghitelman was at the center of the drought, with five saves each in the second and fourth quarters. And he didn’t just bag the easy, outside shots. He stuffed Maryland numerous times inside the five-yard range, including back-to-back stops on midfielder Joe Cummings in close with less than four minutes left in the game.
“Adam has had his up-and-down moments, and he still gets a lot of grief despite his record,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “But he’s very good out of the goal, and his ball-stopping has gotten so much better.
“I just shook my head at times [on the sideline]. I’d like to take some credit from the coaching end, but I really can’t. He was on fire today. Maryland couldn’t get anything past him in the fourth quarter. Adam just slammed the door on them.”
After falling behind -- and looking stagnant on defense -- in the first quarter, Virginia asserted its quickness and its fast break to go on a 5-1 run and take a 5-4 lead at the half. Five different players scored during the run. Then, after Catalino tied the score at 5-5 two minutes into the second half by beating Ghitelman with a high, eight-yard blast from the left wing, the Cavaliers reeled off five unanswered goals to take a 10-5 lead with 11 minutes left.
By then, Maryland, which was bent on beating Ghitelman by shooting low early, couldn’t do much by going high, off-hip, anywhere. The junior was just in the zone.
“[Ghitelman] was the biggest difference in the game,” Maryland coach Dave Cottle said.
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