The Virginia Cavaliers, improbably, are the winners of the 2011 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship. The Cavaliers, who have gone through a tumultuous year beginning with the George Huguely-Yeardley Love murder situation and continuing with several key players getting dismissed from the team this season, defeated unseeded Maryland, 9-7, to give legendary coach Dom Starsia his fourth NCAA title.
Colin Briggs had five goals to lead Virginia, which was fitting because Briggs was suspended for the semifinal game against Denver for a violation of team rules. Virginia becomes the lowest seed to ever win the NCAA title.
They did it after holding off a furious Maryland rally. The Terps tied the game at 6 with a crazy sequence at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Terps scooped up a loose ball, and after a whistle, Ryan Young sped into the frontcourt and created a three-on-two opportunity that eventually ended in a goal by Brian Farrell. Farrell was pounded from behind, and still managed to get the ball in the net. One minute later, the Terps picked up another loose ball and converted on another fast break when Grant Catalino drew two defenders and found Young for a goal on the doorstep, his first of Championship Weekend.
But Virginia struck right back a couple minutes later. The Cavaliers won the faceoff, and took advantage of a Maryland defensive breakdown to score. Nick O'Reilly was double-teamed as he came out from behind the net, and nobody covered Matt White, who scored in front of the net for his second goal of the game. Four and a half minutes later, White scored again, delivering a dagger to the Terps' hearts with an overhand low shot past Niko Amato for an 8-6 Virginia lead.
Virginia kept winning faceoffs and maintaining possession, using the same kind of stall tactics the Terps used to hold off Syracuse earlier in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland finally got possession with just under three minutes left and called timeout with 2:39 left, but the Cavaliers deflected another pass and got possession. It looked like they'd stall the rest of the time away, but instead, Briggs got in front of the net and scored his fifth goal of the game to put it out of reach.
The Terps, meanwhile, still has not won an NCAA title in 35 years. Their remarkable run as an unseeded team came to an end, and this is the sixth time they lost in the NCAA title game since last winning it all.