By Anthony Caruso
and Press Releases
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/25/15
Denver won its first NCAA men’s lacrosse championship, beating Maryland, 10-5, on Monday behind five goals from senior Wesley Berg at Lincoln Financial Field today.
Berg was chosen as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He ended the season with a team-record 58 goals.
Denver has won its first national title in men’s lacrosse for coach Bill Tierney, giving the former Princeton mentor his record seventh title. He won six with the Tigers.
Zach Miller added a goal and two assists for Denver. The fourth-seeded Pioneers (17-2) had defeated top-seeded Notre Dame in overtime in the semifinals Saturday.
Maryland (15-4) made its third appearance in the past five national title games.
Sophomore Matt Rambo (La Salle) led the Terps with three points on two goals and an assist.
“We had a great year,” said Rambo. “As a team, we overcame a lot of stuff. We’ve been working so hard since August. No, we didn’t reach our final goal, but the season was successful. We just didn’t get the job done in the last game. I think we had a hell of a season.”
How special was it to play in this game?
“It’s very special being from Philadelphia, right outside of Philadelphia,” Rambo said. “I’ve been watching in the stands for years and on TV with all my buddies wanting to play in this game. To be on the field for this stage, it was a dream come true.”
“It’s painful right now, but I know as we look back, we’re going to be proud of a lot of things that we did,” added Maryland’s All-America defenseman,Casey Ikeda, of Conestoga High. “We have a lot of great players, but this is a fresh wound, and it hurts really bad.
“It’s a surreal ending. It ends in Philadelphia, where it all began. It hurts real bad, but we have a ton of great fans. These four years are something that I’m going to be able to look bad on and be proud of.”
Denver struck first on back-to-back goals by Wes Berg to take a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes of the contest.
Maryland answered back in short order as sophomore midfielder Colin Heacock got the Terps on the board with a wrap-around shot from the behind the goal with 9:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Berg and Connor Cannizzaro scored for the Pioneers in the final five minutes of the first to give Denver a 4-1 lead at the end of the opening frame.
Rambo kicked off the second quarter scoring with his patented left-handed power dodge and finish to pull Maryland within 4-2 at the 13:13 mark.
Denver’s Erik Adamson scored his lone goal of the game to score the Pioneers’ only goal of the second quarter.
Maryland responded with 3:43 left in the half when Rambo found junior midfielder Bryan Cole sneaking around the side of net to cut the deficit to 5-3 going into halftime.
Denver tallied the first three scores of the second half to open an 8-3 lead with 7:07 remaining in the third quarter.
On an incredible individual effort, Rambo struck again to net his 40th goal of the season and bring the Terps within four at the 5:55 mark, which rounded out the scoring for the third quarter.
Where do you think the game turned?
“I’m not really sure,” Rambo said. “I don’t know where the turning point was. I just know that Denver did a great job – face offs, offensively, and defensively. They played really well. Good job to them.
A defensive struggled ensued in the fourth quarter with neither team able to score until 1:21 left in the game when Denver’s Sean Cannizzaro capitalized on an extra-man opportunity to make it a 9-4 Pioneer lead.
Berg tacked on an empty-netter with 56 seconds left to finish the scoring for the Pioneers.
Maryland got its final tally of the game with 32 seconds remaining when senior attackman Jay Carlson finished a feed from senior midfielder Joe LoCascio to make it a 10-5 final.
First team All-America goalie Kyle Bernlohr kept the Terps in the game throughout the second half, making six of his 10 saves in the final 30 minutes of play.
Rambo, Bernlohr and freshman long pole Matt Neufeldt, who finished with four groundballs and three caused turnovers, were named to the All-Tournament team.
“We were here a couple of years ago (2013) and we didn’t get the job done,” said Tierney. “I think that weighed on everyone’s mind; we tried not to let it. We knew we had a shot this year and we had a big emotional win over Notre Dame.
“To come out here again today after a day’s rest, to play like we did – to play the way Ryan (LaPlante) did. I’m really proud of them.”
Was it extra special after moving out West following multiple titles at Princeton?
“It kind of feels like the first one at Princeton,” said Tierney. “I knew we had a rebuilding mission that had to be done. I needed to get things in line a little bit, and I think we did that.
“We went to different places to recruit kids instead of the typical New York, Baltimore, Philly. We’d like to get those kids, too, but we had kids from 17 different states. Next year, it will go back to 21. We’re proud to present the potential growth for this game at the Division 1 level.”
• With today’s 10-5 loss, Maryland is now 4-1 all-time vs. Denver and 3-1 in NCAA tournament play vs. the Pioneers.
• Sophomore Matt Rambo finished the season with 40 goals, marking the first time a Terrapin player has had at least 40 goals in a season since 2006 when Joe Walters had 46 as a sophomore.
The 2015 NCAA All-Tournament Team
John Crawley, Johns Hopkins
Sergio Perkovic, Notre Dame
Matt Rambo (La Salle), Maryland
Kyle Bernlohr, Maryland
Matt Neufeldt, Maryland
Ryan LaPlante, Denver
Zach Miller, Denver
Trevor Baptiste, Denver
Matt Riis, Denver
Most Outstanding Player: Wesley Berg, Denver