June 6, 1997
Men's Lacrosse Relives Successful 1997 Campaign
The Maryland lacrosse team's 1997 mission statement was posted in the locker room in September. It read: "May 26th, Byrd Stadium." On the last Monday in May, the Division I championship would be decided on the Terps' home field.
Little did the lacrosse world know how a group of 42 men could come together to turn a vision into reality. Maryland would not only host the championship game, but shock the nation by playing in it as well.
The season began with a 13-4 victory on February 22nd. The next three months would witness some of the greatest games in the school's history.
The regular season was highlighted by a double overtime thriller at No. 3 Virginia on March 29th. Senior co-captain Peter Hilgartner led the Maryland charge, netting a career-high five goals on five shots as the Terps dropped a 15-14 heartbreaker.
But what the Terps would take away from Klockner Field that day would serve them better than any victory. Head Coach Dick Edell, his staff and group of warriors realized that day that if the Terps play "Maryland lacrosse", they had as good a shot as any team in the country to still be playing on May 26.
However, the team would suffer a mid season slump, dropping consecutive games to Johns Hopkins and then against Duke at the ACC Tournament. The Terps' record fell to 6-4, and their outlook instantly changed from trying to secure an NCAA Tournament bye to qualifying for the tournament.
Edell gathered his troops after the loss to the Blue Devils and told them Maryland's post season begins now. For the Terps to make it to their seventh consecutive tournament, they would have to conclude the season with wins over Rutgers and a hungry UMBC squad.
Oh, how the Terps would respond. Maryland finished the season with a 12-4 victory over the Scarlet Knights and a narrow 12-10 win over UMBC.
The Terps qualified for the big dance, and the selection committee chose Georgetown as its first partner. The Hoyas, appearing in their first-ever NCAA Tournament, were seeded seventh while the Terps, who finished the regular season at 8-4, were unseeded.
Edell, celebrating his 25th year in coaching and 14th at Maryland, prepared his warriors for battle. At neutral Minnegan Stadium in Towson, Md., the Terps rocketed out of the starting blocks and led Georgetown 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. It was a lead Maryland would never relinquish, defeating the Hoyas 14-10. The celebration could only be brief however for the ACC champions and No. 2-seeded Virginia Cavaliers were up next.
The Terps had the luxury of returning home for the remainder of the tournament. The stage was set for an ACC rematch against the Cavaliers.
Maryland registered its finest performance of the season, posting in a thrilling 10-9 victory. All-America attackman Matt Hahn scored the game-winning goal with only 12 seconds left, finding a narrow hole above the right ear of Virginia goalie Chris Sanderson.
Cinderella Maryland became only the third unseeded team to reach the semifinals in the 27-year history of the tournament. No. 3-seed Syracuse was up next. How long could Cinderella's pumpkin remain a chariot?
The Orangemen, appearing in their 15th consecutive semifinal, represented another opportunity at revenge. Syracuse defeated Maryland, 13-9, in 1995 to capture the national title.
This game resembled an old fashioned shoot-out, and when the dust settled, Hahn was once again the hero. He netted his second consecutive game-winner, this one with 2:27 remaining, to send a record crowd of 30,580 into a complete frenzy.
Over the course of three months, Maryland's mission statement played itself out. There the Terps stood-- May 26th in Byrd Stadium.
Maryland's final opponent was undefeated and defending national champion Princeton. The Tigers proved that day that they are indeed champions by defending their title with a 19-7 victory.
For the Terps, it was indeed a season of triumph. Over the course of a season, Maryland turned a nation of doubters into believers.
The sport received perhaps its most recognition as the lacrosse community rallied around the underdog Terps. It was indeed a remarkable run.
Edell and Maryland proved that if you believe, you can achieve. Maryland will be back. Believe it.