Denver, Maryland meet for NCAA men's lacrosse title at the Linc
The drought is about to end for one school. Denver will make its first appearance Monday in the Division I men's lacrosse national championship game since becoming a member in 1999. However, the Pioneers are coached by Princeton legend Bill Tierney, who is no stranger to playing on Memorial Day, having coached the Tigers in eight championship games and winning six.
The drought is about to end for one school.
Denver will make its first appearance Monday in the Division I men's lacrosse national championship game since becoming a member in 1999. However, the Pioneers are coached by Princeton legend Bill Tierney, who is no stranger to playing on Memorial Day, having coached the Tigers in eight championship games and winning six.
Conversely, Maryland coach John Tillman joked that he was just a kid in 1975 when Maryland won its last crown.
Something has to give when the teams square off at Lincoln Financial Field. Denver and Maryland are both coming off dramatic, one-goal semifinal victories over top-seeded Notre Dame and unseeded Johns Hopkins, respectively.
The short turnaround between the semifinals and final concerns Tillman.
"I'm not sure the general public is getting the very best product we can provide because you do have guys, I mean, these games are slugfests and the kids are shot," Tillman said.
Despite more than 1,500 miles separating the schools, an interesting subplot has developed surrounding a pair of sophomore attacks: Maryland's Matt Rambo and Denver's Connor Cannizzaro.
Both were teammates and part of a spectacular freshman class for the Terrapins. Rambo, of La Salle High, was the most sought-after freshman attack in 2013. Cannizzaro, of Cazenovia, N.Y., was named freshman of the year in 2014.
But Cannizzaro sought and received a release from Maryland. Because there is no transfer penalty when being released from a Division I lacrosse scholarship, he could play - and pay huge dividends - immediately for the Pioneers.
He scored a goal and assisted on another in the win over Notre Dame. Earlier in the week he was named to the recognized as an all-America U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association first-team all-American after notching 56 goals and 33 assists in the regular season.
Come Monday against his old team, Cannizzaro plans to be all business.
"It's going to like any other game," he said. "Just focus on trying to play my best that I can play and help out the team in any way I can. I don't really have any emotion or anything to prove playing my old team. I just want to go out there and win."
Rambo scored four goals - including the game-winner - ans had two assists against Johns Hopkins. He earned all-Big 10 first-team honors after leading the Terps in both goals with 34 and points with 50.
Monday is important to him.
"It's a dream come true to come back here in the Final Four at Philly and the championship game," Rambo said. "Our team worked so hard since August, day in and day out, just blood, sweat and tears. So it's just amazing. It's like a dream come true to make the championship game."