May 17, 2014

Maryland Into Semis After Big LI Homecoming for Chanenchuk

by Patrick Stevens | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | May Madness Home

In-Game Blog Replay

 

Mike Chanenchuk had a big day for the Terrapins, who earned a spot in the NCAA semifinals next weekend with a 16-8 win over Bryant. (Lee Weissman)

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. --- Mike Chanenchuk didn't have great memories of playing at Shuart Stadium. There were too many high school championship games, all with the same unpleasant result.

Saturday no doubt changed those sentiments.

Chanenchuk had five goals and four assists as seventh-seeded Maryland exploited a massive early possession advantage to earn a 16-8 victory over Bryant in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals to book a spot on Memorial Day weekend.

The Terrapins (13-3) will meet either sixth-seeded Notre Dame or Albany in the semifinals.

"It was finally good to get a win at Hofstra," Chanenchuk said.

While he was one of four Maryland players to record a hat trick --- Connor Cannizzaro, Jay Carlson and Joe LoCascio were the others --- the Terps largely had their dominance on faceoffs to thank for the victory.

What was billed as a matchup of the nation's top two faceoff men quickly fizzled into a one-sided affair. Maryland's Charlie Raffa was 9-for-10 in the first quarter and 14-for-20 for the game as he got the better of Bryant's Kevin Massa.

Maryland scored four times before the Bulldogs (16-5) had their first possession.

"We had no battle there at the faceoff X for at least the first quarter," Bryant coach Mike Pressler said. "They had the ball, jumped out 4-0 in the first three minutes. It was just an uphill battle."

Bryant was making its first quarterfinal appearance largely because it fully exploited advantages on faceoffs and at goalie against Syracuse in the first round. Maryland never allowed that possibility to materialize Saturday.

While Pressler suggested Raffa moved early on several faceoffs (and that trying to time the whistle isn't a large part of Massa's game), the Maryland junior was exceptionally efficient at popping the ball in the air and directing it toward long pole Michael Ehrhardt. Massa even went to the bench for a couple draws late in the first quarter before faring better later in the game.

By then, it was far too late. Maryland peppered Bryant goalie Gunnar Waldt (seven saves), deciphering the Bulldogs' zone while doing much of its damage from the outside.

"It wasn't going to be like some of the ACC games where you just line up and play and their best players dodge your best players," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "It was a little bit different from that, a lot of wing picks, a lot of picks behind, some deception. If your fundamentals weren't good and you didn't have attention to detail, you were going to be in trouble."

Instead, Maryland is off to what, at least in early February, would have been considered an improbable final four appearance. The Terps lost much of its offense to graduation after last season, and while early victories over Syracuse and Duke were impressive, Maryland was quite uneven over the second half of the regular season.

The Terps nearly lost in the first round to Cornell, only for Chanenchuk to cap a second-half rally with a game-clinching goal with two seconds left. He didn't wait nearly so long Saturday, producing Maryland's first individual nine-point day since 1979.

With that, the Terps secured a spot in the semifinals for the third time in four years under Tillman.

"Going into this season, we were kind of looked down upon in the ACC and the country and that obviously gives us extra motivation," Chanenchuk said. "We play really hard as underdogs, so we've been using that edge the whole year and embracing the younger guys and some of the players who haven't played a lot in the past has helped us out a lot."

The loss abruptly ended a season that marked a significant step forward for Bryant. Colin Dunster scored four goals for the Bulldogs, who had the ball for barely four minutes in the first quarter.

"Maryland did to us what we've done to so many people, so it was really the first time since Kevin Massa's arrival at Bryant that we've had that done to us," Pressler said. "That was really different territory."

Meanwhile, the Terps move forward and will have the chance to again put an end to one of the most curious streaks in college lacrosse. Maryland has not won a national championship since 1975, but it stands two games away from doing just that after entering the season picked to finish last in the ACC.

"I think these kids are really prideful and we really thought they had potential," Tillman said. "We didn't know what was going to happen, but we were going to approach it like it was any other year."


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