Cummings, Maryland End Lehigh's Cinderella Story
by Michael Blouse | LaxMagazine.com
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Joe Cummings and Maryland ruined Lehigh's first appearance in the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament.
Cummings scored with 6 seconds remaining Sunday night to advance the unseeded Terrapins, who celebrated a 10-9 victory over Lehigh in a first-round game at the Ulrich Sports Complex. A record crowd of 2,278 witnessed the historic event.
The Patriot League champion Mountain Hawks furiously rallied from a five-goal deficit to take an 8-6 lead into the final quarter, but Cummings' heroics ended the thriller. Maryland held possession in its offensive end for the final 4 minutes, 41 seconds.
|Joe Cummings scored with six
seconds left to lift Maryland to a 10-9 win on the road at Lehigh.
The victory sets up a quarterfinal matchup with Johns Hopkins at
Navy on Saturday.
© Kevin P. Tucker
Cummings fired his game-winner over the shoulder of Lehigh goalie Matt Poillon after driving at the right pipe from point-behind.
"I took advantage of a little crease and the shot went it," said Cummings, a senior who is the Terrapins' leading scorer this season. "But this was a team win. By no means, did any one player win this game. We really focused last week on finishing quarters strong and that just happened to be the final quarter."
Maryland (10-5) moves on to meet second-seeded Johns Hopkins (12-3) in an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal-round matchup Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Game time is noon.
Drew Snider's three goals and Owen Blye's four assists led Maryland. Kyle Stiefel scored three goals—his first career hat trick – to lead Lehigh, the No. 7 seed.
The Mountain Hawks overcame a 6-1 deficit by scoring seven consecutive goals in the second and third periods to take a lead into the fourth quarter. Snider brought the Terrapins within one at the 13:26 mark, but Dante Fantoni scored 32 seconds later to widen the Lehigh lead to 9-7. Maryland again got within a goal on Snider's second of the period with 8:03 remaining and the Terps eventually tied it at 9 on Mike Chanenchuk's goal with 6:42 left.
It all set up Cummings' decisive shot.
"The story of the game was Maryland controlling the ball on offense," Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said. "We didn't get enough possessions on offense. They managed the clock very well at the end. Our defense played a lot of the game on their end of the field so I'm not about the blame them. They left it all on the field."
The fourth-quarter offensive outburst was unlikely after Lehigh held coach John Tillman's Terrapins scoreless in the third period.
Maryland failed to score for a 22-minute, 26-second stretch of game action that spanned two quarters. The Terrapins, who prefer a deliberate style on offense, were shut out in a quarter for just the second time this season.
"We were reeling there early in the third period," Tillman said. "We needed a break so I called a timeout. I was pretty surprised we opened up a 6-1 lead because I know how good a team Lehigh is. I'm just proud of my guys for fighting through it. We're not the prettiest team, but we fight with the best of them."
"Lehigh's a great team and they had the momentum," Cummings said. "But we played the game; we didn't play the scoreboard. That was big for us."
Cassese was not surprised by his team's third-quarter charge, which included four goals in 3:37 and terrific work in the net by Poillon, who finished with 16 stops.
"We've been a third quarter team all year," he said. "We came out at halftime with confidence and were ready to go."
The ACC team briefly took control of the action in the second period. Consecutive goals by Billy Gribbin, Jay Carlson and Michael Shakespeare put Maryland ahead 6-1 with 5:52 left in the quarter and forced Cassese to call an emergency time-out.
Immediately, the Mountain Hawks rallied. David DiMaria's close-range conversion with 4:09 remaining before intermission ended a 21-plus-minute scoring drought for Lehigh. Stiefel cut the deficit to 6-4 with a pair of goals in a 70-second span.
Maryland led 3-1 after the first quarter.
"I'm very proud of the season we had," Cassese said of the Mountain Hawks' record-setting season. Lehigh finished with a school-record 14 wins. "But it always stings when you finish the season with a loss and only one team walks off a winner."
Meanwhile, Maryland prepares for its rematch with Johns Hopkins with a spot in the Final Four at stake. The Terps defeated Johns Hopkins 9-6 on April 13.
"They're a terrific team," Tillman said. "We got that first one but they're playing well right now and I'm sure they'll make some adjustments. We'll have to do the same."
Maryland, which was awarded an at-large berth, is making its 35th tournament appearance overall in the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins lost 9-7 to Virginia in last year's national championship game. Lehigh defeated Colgate 16-14 on April 29 to win the Patriot League title and earn the automatic bid.
The meeting was the first between the teams since 1928 – a 15-2 Maryland victory.
Maryland 10, Lehigh 9
Maryland 3 3 0 4 – 10
Lehigh 1 3 4 1 – 9
GOALS: M: Drew Snider 3, Joe Cummings 2, Owen Blye, Jay Carlson, Michael Shakespeare, Billy Gribbin, Mike Chanenchuk. L: Kyle Stiefel 3, David DiMaria 2, Roman Lao-Gosney, Ryan Snyder, Adam Johnson, Dante Fantoni.
ASSISTS: M: Blye 4, Chanenchuk 2. L: DiMaria, Fantoni, R. Lao-Gosney.
FACE-OFFS: M: 14. L: 9.
GROUND BALLS: M: 20. L: 22.
PENALTIES: M: 3. L: 3.
SHOTS: M: 37. L: 30.
SAVES: M: Niko Amato 6. L: Matthew Poillon 16.