Two minutes into Saturday's high-profile showdown at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville, the Maryland Terrapins had jumped out to a two-goal lead. It would prove to be all the margin they would need, withstanding a late Virginia comeback to win 9-7.
Maryland (7-1 overall, 1-1 ACC) found its scoring from its most reliable sources. The potent attack duo of Kevin Cooper and Jay Carlson tallied four of Maryland's nine goals, with Cooper assisting Carlson's third goal of the day. Midfielder Jake Bernhardt struggled with his usually reliable shot, but younger brother Jesse kept up the family name, finding twine twice.
The Carlson-from-Cooper goal at 8:47 of the fourth quarter was Maryland's last before Virginia began to claw its way back into the game. Leading Virginia scorer Mark Cockerton notched his 29th goal of the season and second of the game with 7:00 remaining. It would be five more minutes until the Cavs would score again, with a Greg Coholan goal off a Greg Danseglio assist at 1:35. Danseglio must have inspired his longpole teammates, as Scott McWilliams got into the action with an assist to Nick O'Reilly just eight seconds later. The Danseglio and McWilliams assists bring the total points for Virginia poles up to 11 on the year, far and away tops in the country.
Unfortunately not even the spirit of all-time UVa points leader Steele Stanwick, honored at halftime, could give the Hoos enough of a boost.
Breaking down the game, a few things stood out. First, late game face-offs were a vast improvement. Where the Hoos piddled away a lead (and eventually the game) against Cornell by failing to win crucial face-offs at the end of the game, Mick Parks went 4/5 on face-offs in the fourth quarter. The grab-and-go goal that happened to be the game's last is a prime example of why those face-offs are so important.
Unfortunately, most of the other problem areas remained. Goaltending? Check: 9 of Maryland's 18 shots on goal ended up as points. Missed extra-man opportunities? Check: the Hoos converted only 1 of 3. Bad shooting? Check: only half the Virginia shots were on goal, and only 17% of the total shots were scores.
There are only three games left in the regular season: UNC-Chapel Hill at home next Saturday, a visit to Duke the following Friday, and a game designed as a tournament tune-up against Bellarmine in Charlottesville the weekend after that. Assuming a win against Bellarmine, the Hoos will need to--at worst--split the Carolina and Duke games. Even then, Virginia's NCAA Tournament hopes may ride on picking up at least one more win in the ACC Tournament in Chapel Hill. Saturday's loss reduces Virginia's margin of error to practically zero.
Full box score available here.