ncaa men's lacrosse championship preview

Virginia and Maryland will take each other on in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse championship game Monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Another weekend, another action-packed slate of NCAA Men’s Lacrosse.

To commence the semifinal round in Hartford, two high-powered offenses in Virginia and North Carolina took each other on at noon.

Despite the fact UVA found itself up by five at halftime, the Tar Heels stormed back and cut the Cavaliers’ lead to one towards the conclusion of the match.

Virginia’s defense prevailed though, making its most important stop of the season and preventing Carolina from tying the game in the waning seconds. UVA ultimately ousted UNC 12-11 to advance to Monday’s title game.

Following that terrific showing, Maryland continued its stellar undefeated season by somehow figuring out how to stop Duke’s powerful offensive unit.

The Blue Devils were only able to conjure up five goals in what was its worst offensive showing of the season. The final score was 14-5 — Terrapins attackman and Tewaaraton Award finalist Jared Bernhardt led the way with five goals and a pair of assists for seven total points.

Now, we move onto the championship game — Virginia will look to defend its 2019 title (don’t forget, the 2020 season prematurely concluded due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship Date, Time, TV Info

No. 3 Maryland vs. No. 4 Virginia — Monday, May 31, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

What to Watch for

The current state of Virginia’s offense going up against Maryland’s strong defense?

If there’s going to be a singular matchup to pay attention to in the midst of this entire game, it should be that. Virginia scored 13, 14, and 12 goals respectively in its first three tournament games. The talent level for the Cavaliers on that side of the ball is superb — expect Connor Shellenberger, Charlie Bertrand, Matt Moore, and Payton Cormier to step up for UVA in the biggest game of the year.

Virginia goalie Alex Rode has additionally undergone a great season thus far but will have a daunting task on his hands facing the spectacular Jared Bernhardt. There’s a good chance the Maryland attackman earns the highest individual honor in the sport and wins the Tewaaraton Award, which is why Rode and the Virginia defense will need to gameplan against him if they plan to emerge victorious.

Which Players to Pay Attention to

  • Maryland attackman Jared Bernhardt (94 points, 69 goals, 25 assists) — Tewaaraton Award finalist
  • Virginia attackman Connor Shellenberger (73 points, 33 goals, 40 assists)
  • Virginia goalie Alex Rode (200 saves, 55% save rate)

Bernhardt is very much the most talented player in this game and it would be no surprise if he continued his phenomenal 2021 campaign Monday afternoon. Unless UVA’s defense puts together its best performance of the year (which head coach Lars Tiffany is obviously hoping is the case), expect Bernhardt to rack up at least five points, regardless of the final outcome.

Freshman attackman Connor Shellenberger is the MVP of this UVA offense and didn’t disappoint in the semifinal round against North Carolina, putting up two goals and four assists for six total points.

Given the talent level of either offense, expect this game to potentially be a tight back-and-forth battle, with both Bernhardt and Shellenberger sitting atop the stat sheet for their respective squads.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.