Maryland men’s, women’s hockey teams prepare together for another NCAA Final Four

Once again, both Maryland hockey teams are in the NCAA Final Four and will compete for the national championship.

Maryland is the only Division I school in the country to have both men’s and women’s hockey teams in the Final Four — a feat that’s nothing new for the Terrapins.

With the best program in women’s hockey history and a solid contender on the men’s side, this weekend will mark the ninth time in the past 12 years that the two teams have reached the semifinals together.

“Having two programs at the top of the sport in the country and going out and competing on Memorial Day weekend is a good thing for the University of Maryland,” women’s coach Kathy Reese said. “It shows how special it is to play here.”

Although the two shows have reached the Final Four together in a total of 14 seasons, they have each reached the top only once. In 2017, the women’s team ended an undefeated season with a victory over Boston College in the championship game, while the men’s team captured Ohio State’s first NCAA title since 1975.

“It’s great. Both are exciting at this point,” said junior attacker Hannah LeBeck. “Hopefully when this is over, we can celebrate together.”

This year, however, the men’s team is coming off an undefeated season and avenging their loss to Virginia in last year’s championship game.

The top-seeded Terrapins dominated all season, winning 16 games by averaging 9.3 goals. They have won all but two of their games by five or more goals, and they have scored more goals (149) than their opponents (147). Maryland’s 18.5 goals per game are nearly 2.5 more than the second-best team.

“We need to get this done,” coach John Tillman said. “We don’t want to feel like last year.”

Fifth-year senior Logan Wisnauskas has led the Terrapins to the lead, scoring multiple goals in all but one of the games this season, and has finished with the 3.44 goals per game ranked second in the country. Wisnauskas is a Big Ten offensive player of the year, All-American First Team and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 Premier Hockey League draft.

The Terrapin men easily beat Vermont and Virginia 21-5 and 18-9 in the first two rounds. Maryland faces fifth-ranked Princeton — a team the Terrapins beat 15-10 in February — in Saturday’s semifinals.

“I think our players have a lot of confidence,” said Tillman, who is in his 12th season as Maryland’s coach. “We know they’re going to score and we’re going to make some mistakes, but I do think our players have a lot of confidence in each other. I feel like if we play our best games, we can move on.”

Meanwhile, the women’s team is gearing up for its 28th Final Four, 12 of which came during Reese’s 16-year tenure. But the Terrapins haven’t gotten this far in the tournament since 2019 — a year in which they won a record 14th NCAA title — as the 2020 season was cut short by COVID-19 and last year at the Lost in the second round.

The Terrapin women are 19-1 on the season with their only loss in March. They are eighth in the nation in offensive scoring average at 16.1 goals per game and second in defensive scoring at 7.35 goals per game. Aurora Cottingley, Libby May and LeBeck have combined to be one of the most influential scoring trios in the country​​, as all three have scored more than 50 times this year.

The No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Maryland easily beat Duke and No. 7 Florida State in the first two rounds to lead them by 13 goals. The Terrapins will now face third-ranked Boston College (18-3) in Friday’s semifinals.

The women’s championship will be held at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Sunday. If the Terrapin women’s team wins Friday, they will face the No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 Northwestern University winners in the finals.

The Men’s Final Four will be played at UConn’s Rentschler Arena. If the Terrapins win Saturday, they will play the No. 6 Rutgers and No. 7 Cornell winners in Monday’s championship game.

Source link