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NCAA Lacrosse Championship 2021: Virginia Holds off Maryland's Late Rally, Wins Title

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 31, 2021

EAST HARTFORD, CT - MAY 31: Maryland Terrapins attacker Logan Wisnauskas (12) runs against Virginia Cavaliers defender Jared Connors (28) as goalie Alex Rode (38) waits during the Division I Mens Lacrosse Championship held at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field on May 31, 2021 in East Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Larry French/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Larry French/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Virginia Cavaliers survived a furious late comeback bid by the Maryland Terrapins, winning the NCAA Lacrosse Championship on Monday, 17-16. 

Connor Shellenberger and Matt Moore led the Cavaliers, each posting four goals and two assists in the victory, while Jeff Conner notched three goals and an assist. 

Virginia took a 16-11 lead with just over 11 minutes in the game before Maryland stormed back, cutting the deficit to one with only 11 seconds remaining. Maryland won the preceding faceoff, and Luke Wierman had an open shot on goal just before time expired, but Virginia goalie Alex Rode made the clutchest of clutch saves, preserving the title for the Cavs. 

NCAA Lacrosse @NCAALAX

Virginia holds off in the final moments ๐Ÿ‘<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ @espn #NCAAMLAX x @UVAMensLax pic.twitter.com/VIKSHghQZy

With the win, Virginia defended its 2020 national championship and won its ninth national title overall. 

After the game, Virginia head coach Lars Tiffany had nothing but praise for Rode's efforts in goalโ€”he had 12 savesโ€”despite Maryland putting 16 on the board: 

"He is a fantastic goalie every day. The rest of the country just gets to see it mostly in April and May. He steps up big. It's funny, I just talked to him. He said, 'I just won a national championship and I sucked.' I was like, 'No, no, you were solid!' He wants to make 15-20 saves a game, and he thinks he should make more saves. But they're too talented, Maryland just brings too much good heat." 
NCAA Lacrosse @NCAALAX

Coach Lars Tiffany's final game thoughts โœŠ๐Ÿฅ<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ @espn #NCAAMLAX x @UVAMensLax pic.twitter.com/vrr5OsL0jB

Andy Glockner @AndyGlockner

Lacrosse goalies are a different breed, man. I played soccer and hockey goalie growing up and wanted ZERO part of standing in a lacrosse goal.

Rode's final heroics and Virginia's efficient offensive display spoiled a monster performance from Maryland's Logan Wisnauskas (five goals, one assist, 10 shots). 

Jared Bernhardt (two goals, three assists) and Kyle Long (one goal, three assists) had strong performances for the Terrapins as well, who nearly pulled off an epic comeback in the final quarter. 

NCAA Lacrosse @NCAALAX

Anthony DeMaio would like to let everyone know THE TERPS ARE STILL IN THIS!!<br><br>๐Ÿ“บ @espn #NCAAMLAX x @TerpsMLax pic.twitter.com/Qb7yikUxyh

Virginia's bid to repeat as champions after winning the title in 2019 was put on hold last year after the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 campaign. The repeat may have been delayed, but it's hard to imagine the Cavaliers finally getting it in a more dramatic or memorable fashion.