No. 3 Maryland will face No. 4 Virginia in the 2021 DI men’s lacrosse national championship game at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, May 31.
Here’s what you need to know to tune in:
- What: 2021 DI Men’s Lacrosse National Championship
- When: Monday, May 31, 2021
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2/WatchESPN
How to watch Virginia vs Maryland without cable
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Once signed up for AT&T TV, you can watch 2021 DI men’s lacrosse national championship live on the AT&T TV app, which is available on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TV, iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet. Or you can watch on your computer via the link here.
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Once signed up for Sling TV, you can watch 2021 DI men’s lacrosse national championship live on the Sling TV app, which is available on your Roku, Roku TV, Amazon Fire TV or Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Xbox One, Samsung Smart TV, LG Smart TV, Android TV, airTV Mini, Oculus, Portal, iPhone, Android phone, iPad or Android tablet. Or you can watch on your computer via the link here.
If you can’t watch live, Sling TV comes included with 50 hours of cloud DVR.
Maryland Lacrosse vs. Virginia: National championship preview
The Terrapins and Cavaliers – onetime ACC rivals – meet one more time to decide who are the kings of men’s college lacrosse. The teams last met in the 2019 quarterfinals in a game that featured one of the more egregious referee mistakes in tournament history. The Terrapins led 12-7 with under five minutes remaining in the game, but the Cavaliers scored five goals, including Michael Kraus’s infamous “pipe goal” with 1:14 remaining in the game to tie the score at 12. The Terps would lose the game in overtime, and Virginia would go on to win the National Championship two games later.
That history is part of a series filled with dramatic games where the stakes were at their highest. The Terps look to beat their third consecutive ACC foe to give the Terps their second national championship under coach John Tillman.
The Cavaliers enter the game coming off of a 12-11 Final Four win over North Carolina. The Cavs entered the year with people talking about its prolific offense. Matt Moore led that 2019 team in scoring with 89 points and seemed well on his way to matching that total again in 2020, when he had 35 points through six games before COVID-19 ended the season. Entering the year, he was again expected to lead the Cavs in scoring and has put up 61 points on 29 goals and 32 assists. That does not lead the Cavaliers in scoring, however.
Former top-ranked recruit and redshirt freshman Connor Shellenberger (33g, 40a) has given the Cavaliers a true two-headed monster on offense. Moore and Shellenberger share similar physical and athletic attributes – both stand at just over six-feet and weigh around 200 pounds. Both can play behind the goal as an attackman or up top as a midfielder. Both can shoot with either hand from distance with power and accuracy. Both can draw slides and dish to open teammates for easy goals. The two account for over half of UVA’s assists. Shellenberger and Moore complement the remaining offensive threats. Payton Cormier (43g, 8a) is a classic inside Canadian finisher.
Ian Laviano (23g, 6a) is a classic off-ball sniper who can find soft spots in a defense and ping corners. He is also a ferocious rider despite is small stature. Peter Garno (21g, 3a) is a classic stretch shooter, while his midfield running-mate Dox Aiken (16g, 5a) can not only shoot but dodge down the alleys. The Cavaliers welcomed Merrimack graduate transfer Charlie Bertrand (26g, 7a) to Charlottesville. The former two-time Division Two player of the year gives the Cavaliers a left-handed mismatch on the wing, as Bertrand uses his size to overpower short-stick midfielders or his craftiness to get under LSMs.
Finally, Xander Dixon (10g, 10a) gives the Cavs another well-rounded attackman/midfielder who can exploit mismatches but is also more adept at finding open teammates than some other Cavaliers. Matt Moore exited parts of the UNC game on Saturday with a lingering shoulder injury. The defensive end of the field is where UVA has struggled, at least outside of goalie Alex Rode (11.5 goals against, 55-percent). The 2019 NCAA Tournament MVP is capable of stealing games. He plays angles well and baits shooters into taking shots. He also gets UVA into transition when he makes saves. Kyle Kology plays more of a stay-at-home defensive game.
The burly Kology brings physicality on his slides. He is joined by sophomore Cade Saustad and freshman Cole Kastner at close defense. All three stand six feet and four inches or taller. Kastner’s insertion into the starting lineup late in the season finally gave UVA a close defender to match up on elite X-attackmen. Kastner uses his six-foot, seven-inch frame well to keep elite dodgers at bay. UVA also possesses an elite LSM in Jared Conners. The six-foot, five-inch senior is a terror on the face-off wings and can lead a fast break in transition. He has caused 20 turnovers on the season and scooped 80 ground balls, second only to FOGO Petey Lasalla.
Lasalla, if you recall the 2019 quarterfinals game, can dominate a game from the face-off X. He has won 62-percent of the face-offs he has taken, but he is more than just a possession player. Lasalla has scored nine goals and dished six assists. Inside the Match-Up If you doubt the Maryland defense at this point in the season, you do so to your own peril. Brett Makar and Nick Grill have completely erased every attackman they have guarded since the start of tournament season.
For Moore, nursing a shoulder injury, the prospect of facing a physical, athletic, and tactically sound defenseman in Brett Makar is probably not a sight he wants to see. While Shellenberger has used his athleticism to move anywhere on the field to create offense, Nick Grill has proved he can neutralize any style of attackman. The Terps’ rope unit – even shorthanded with the absence of Jake Higgins – has created a perimeter dome at the defensive end. Roman Puglise, Alex Smith, and Josh Coffman have proved that they are the best group of short-stick defensive midfielders in the nation. John Geppert has come into his own as one of the best LSMs in the nation.
Justin Sherrer’s athletic ability has meant that there is little drop-off in quality when he enters the game at LSM. Maryland feels comfortable in switching picks and allowing its rope unit to defend any offensive player. They can also get out into transition, which the Terps will need due to UVA’s aggressive ride. Logan McNaney, coming off of a 17 save performance against Duke, will need to lock in on UVA’s distance shooters. UVA runs a simple 2-2-2 offense, where attackmen behind or midfielders up top will set a pick to allow a dodger to turn the corner. Once a dodger turns the corner, the two crease players will scissor cut.
The ball-side player will cut first to remove a defense’s first slide, and the off-ball side player will back cut. It is this second cut that is often open as defenses scramble to stop UVA’s athletic dodgers from getting to the middle of the field. UVA’s entire offensive system requires it to win one-on-one dodges. There is little ball movement. The system is about out-athleting an opponent. In UVA’s losses, its dodgers could not win match-ups and the ball would die in sticks, as the offense can devolve into repeated hero ball dodges while everyone else stands around. Per College Crosse, UVA entered the Final Four with the 35 th most efficient defense in the nation, the worst of any team playing over the weekend.
The Cavs have struggled all season at containing X-attackmen, giving up 20 goals and 13 assists in eight games against opponents with above-average to elite X-attackmen (Gray, Sowers, Reyfuss, Kavanagh, Nichtern). The Cavs believe that Kastner solves that deficiency, but the freshman will take a huge step up in weight class against Jared Bernhardt. Like the ACC teams that Maryland has defeated in consecutive weeks, the Cavaliers are slow to slide and prefer to let defenders win one-on-one match-ups. Ball movement, an activity sorely missing in ACC offenses this season, is the kryptonite of defenses like UVA’s.
At times on Saturday, Duke sent three defenders to deter Bernhardt, which simply opened up opportunities for Maryland’s shooters like Logan Wisnauskas and Anthony DeMaio. While Daniel Maltz had a quiet game against Duke, expect him to find interior seams in the UVA defense as they slide to Bernhardt. Also pay attention to how UVA approaches Kyle Long and Bubba Fairman. Both can win one-on-one match-ups. If UVA employs a slow-to-slide scheme against Long and Fairman, both will find the back of the net.
Rode and Lasalla are the X-factors for the Cavaliers. Rode can get into shooters’ heads. The left- hander plays a high crease to take away shooting angles, but he is athletic enough to recover from stick fakes. When he is on, as he was in UVA’s 2019 title run, he can carry the team to victory. UVA’s defensive strategy means that Rode sees a lot of rubber. He posted an 18-save performance in a 10-goal loss to Syracuse. In all four Cavalier losses, he posted double-digit saves.
Lasalla, too, can keep UVA in games, although he has been streaky between and within games. Built like a fireplug, Lasalla can play the ball forward and spark transition. When he is on, he gives UVA energy goals. One final thing to watch. UVA has a notoriously aggressive ride. It was this ride that brought them back from the brink in 2019 against the Terrapins. Before the COVID shutdown in 2020, the Terps were preparing to play UVA. IMS asked Coach Tillman about their preparation for UVA’s ride, and Tillman noted that the Terps had spent all of the 2020 season preparing for UVA’s ride.
Expect them to have continued those efforts. With McNaney providing a steady hand in the clearing game, the Terps could neutralize UVA’s ride. As with every game this season, if the Terps get 50-percent in goal from McNaney, 50-percent at the face-off, and approach 90-percent in the clearing game, they are nearly impossible to defeat.