The NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship game will be an all-Maryland affair. Monday's final will show that defense does win championships, as Loyola Maryland looks to defeat the Maryland Terrapins.
Loyola Maryland and its tough defense took what appeared to be a commanding 7-3 lead into the final quarter of its semifinal matchup with Notre Dame.
Like its attempt to win the 2012 NCAA Lacrosse Championship, getting the win was anything but easy.
The Fighting Irish (15-3) showed heart, scoring their fifth goal at the 6:28 mark. The four-point lead was cut in half, and nerves could have overtaken a less skilled squad.
But Loyola (19-1) responded with solid ball control and three more saves by Jack Runkel en route to a 7-5 victory.
Any concerns stemming from a 10-9 overtime loss to the No. 2 seed Johns Hopkins in their final regular season game of the year should be erased. The Greyhounds have shown they are deserving of their No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Loyola defeated the two other tournament teams it faced this season. It dominated semifinalist Duke at home with a 13-8 win. It beat Denver on the road in regular season play, 12-9, with a second win in Denver in the ECAC semifinals, 14-13 in OT.
Its final opponent on Monday will be the Maryland Terrapins, who controlled the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils 16-10. Maryland scored at least 10 points in its first three tournament games.
Maryland will be a difficult opponent. It features one of the most powerful offenses in the game and has become a perennial powerhouse.
Loyola is battle-tested, though, and features a strong defense. It didn't allow a team to reach double-digits in the regular season, and its NCAA tournament opponents are averaging just 6.3 PPG.
Look for the Greyhounds defense to slow the Terrapin offense, as Loyola Maryland brings home the 2012 title.