Written by Brooks
To choose the greatest lacrosse games ever played is a challenging task given the volume of hair-raising moments over the years. Lacrosse is undoubtedly the fastest game on two feet and breathtaking moments are a dime a dozen. With that, please enjoy this selection of the greatest lacrosse games ever played.
Cornell vs Maryland 1976 National Championship
The 1976 championship was easily the greatest lacrosse game played in the 1970’s. The Cornell vs Maryland 1976 National Championship was packed with legendary players and electrifying moments.
Both teams headed into the title game undefeated, a first in NCAA history. Players on both sides including several legendary Hall of Famers such as Frank Urso (Maryland), Mike French, Richie Moran, and Eamon McEneaney (Cornell).
In front of a large crowd of nearly 8,000 fans at Brown Stadium, Cornell’s Mike French scored 7 goals and had 4 assists. This stellar performance gave undefeated Cornell the 16-13 overtime victory for their 2nd title. Throughout the 1970s, Cornell was dominant in lacrosse with four national championship appearances winning three titles. The 1976 and 1977 teams are often considered to be among the best college lacrosse teams of all time.
Note: During the 1993 terrorist attack of the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York, Eamon McEneaney who played for this Cornell team, courageously led 65 co-workers to safety. He helped his coworkers create a human chain and guided them all the way down from the 106th floor battling smoke to safety below.
Later in life, Eamon McEneaney’s life was taken in the devastating September 11th World Trade Center terrorist attacks that shook the nation. He was one of nearly 3,000 who perished that somber day. Eamon McEneaney is a hero not only in the lacrosse world, but to all of us. Rest in Peace.
Syracuse vs Johns Hopkins 1989 National Championship
Commonly referred to as the “The Greatest Lacrosse Game Ever Played”, this match featured legendary icons of the game on both sides. Not to mention, this was the most heated college lacrosse rivalry featuring the best college teams of the time.
Dave Pietramala and Quint Kessenich represented Hopkins while Paul and Gary Gait, Tom Marechek, and Matt Palumb led Syracuse. In front of over 20,000 fans, the Orange and Blue Jays put on a performance for the ages. The game included so much offensive prowess that highlights are studied to this day. Intense physical defense was also put on display from both teams.
Syracuse ultimately reigned victorious winning the championship title by a one goal margin, 13-12.
United States vs Canada World Lacrosse Championship Game 1998
The 1998 World Lacrosse Championship final between Canada and the United States was held at Homewood Field in Baltimore. It was the gold medal game and has been often cited as the greatest field lacrosse game of all time. If not, it was certainly the best game ever played at the national level.
Names of note from the Canadian squad included Gary and Paul Gait, John Grant Jr., Tom Marachek, and Chris Gill. Leading the US team were the likes of Casey Powell, Mark Millon, and Jesse Hubbard amongst many talented players.
The US came out firing early in the game and ended up taking a commanding lead in the 3rd quarter. The score was 11-1 by the middle of the 3rd quarter. With a 10 point lead, the US team must have been feeling quite confident, perhaps a little cocky. Letting their guard down and taking their foot off the pedal, the Canadian squad stormed back in the 3rd and 4th quarters with a flurry of goals to cut the US lead down to 13-10. Then with the final two minutes on the line, the Canadian squad was able to tie the game up with three unanswered goals to send the game into OT at 13-13.
In the end, the US squad was able to triumph with a one goal lead for the victory at the end of double overtime play. The final score was 15-14 over Canada.
Key note: Sal LoCasio made an astonishing 32 saves for the US, with five in the overtime periods.
Princeton vs Syracuse 2001 National Championship
Princeton and Syracuse, two teams with a long history of rivalry prior to this matchup would meet again in the National Championship in 2001. Two freshmen attackmen were the focal points of each team. For Princeton, it was Ryan Boyle on one end and for Syracuse, the legendary Mikey Powell. Between the two teams, they had won 11 of the past 13 Division I national titles in men’s lacrosse.
The game would go down to the wire as Powell would tie the game to send it to overtime. Finally in OT, with 41 seconds left, Boyle found B.J. Prager for the game winning goal to win it 10-9. With the win, Princeton marked its sixth national championship (1992, ‘94, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98) in ten years. This marked the fourth time that the Tigers had won the title game in overtime. The victory was the 11th straight for Princeton in one-goal games, including all three of its tournament games.
Syracuse vs Cornell 2009 National Championship
Syracuse returned to the National Championship for the second year in a row after winning it all in 2008. Cornell controlled the game for the first 56 minutes and frustrated Syracuse with staunch defense. Cornell was up 9-6 with just over five minutes to go in the 4th quarter thanks to the great play of John Glynn and Max Seibald. However, the Orange came storming back as Stephen Keogh and Cody Jamieson narrowed the deficit to one goal with 2:46 remaining to make it 9-8.
Cornell got the ball with less than 30 seconds to go. As the Big Red tried to clear the ball, Syracuse made one of, if not the craziest play in national championship history with Kenny Nims scoring to tie it with 4 seconds left in regulation.
In OT, Cornell won the ensuing face-off, but Syracuse defenseman Sid Smith stripped Ryan Hurley for a turnover. Dan Hardy feigned a shot before passing to Cody Jamieson, who was just beyond the crease. Jamieson put it away for the game-winner.
Notre Dame vs Albany 2014 NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals
Coming into this game, the Thompson trio of UAlbany consisting of Lyle, Miles, and Ty Thompson displayed electric play all year. They put on dazzling displays of wrap around goals, behind the back finishes, and a superb collective field IQ. Notre Dame was led by Matt Kavanaugh, Sergio Perkovic and their lockdown defense. Albany had never been to the final four, and Notre Dame had never won a championship.
It was Notre Dame that pulled out in front early in the game leading 4-0. The Irish would be outscored 12-3 from that point into the 4th quarter. The Thompsons heated up and wowed the packed stadium and fans watching on national television with several highlight reel moments. This included two backhand goals from Lyle, who extended his single-season points record to 128 with a three-goal, three-assist performance.
The 4th quarter brought a change of tide against the Danes. The Thompsons barely touched the ball in the final quarter. The Irish began their rally with four consecutive goals in two minutes. But Albany netted one to break up the Irish run. Then Notre Dame rattled off another pair of goals in a span of a minute and 41 seconds. This was capped by Perkovic’s 2nd of the game to tie the score at 13-13 with three minutes left.
Notre Dame goalie Connor Kelly, denied the Great Danes a lead with a key save on Albany’s Ty Thompson, who sent a shot off the goalkeeper’s helmet. With only two seconds left, that stop ended Albany’s last opportunity as time expired to send the game to overtime.
With a little over two minutes to play in overtime, Kavanagh drove toward the center of the defense. He drew a double team. As he backed off, the Albany defenders slouched in, giving him room to take a few steps in and fire a sidearm rocket. The shot beat Albany’s Blaze Riorden low for to take the OT win for the Irish.
Brown vs Maryland 2016 NCAA Tournament Semifinals
The Terps started out of the gates fast, taking a 4-1 advantage. Then the high-scoring Bears scored six of the next seven goals to take a 7-5 lead. It was Brown that led 8-7 at the half.
Brown goalie Jack Kelly made 7 of his 14 saves in the third period to keep the Bears alive. Brendan Caputo’s second goal of the game with 1:49 left in regulation knotted the game at 14. Then, Maryland senior defenseman Matt Dunn secured the ground ball on the overtime face-off. After working the ball behind the goal, Matt Rambo found Colin Heacock on the crease. He faked and fired a low shot past Kelly for the game winner.
Twelve different Terps recorded at least a point in the game. The effort was led by Rambo’s six with a goal and five assists. Also, Heacock finished with three goals and an assist, and Dylan Maltz also notched a hat trick.
Dylan Molloy, the favorite for the Tewaaraton Award and the nation’s leading scorer, helped spark the Bears’ rally. He scored his second goal of the game in the fourth quarter despite playing with a broken bone in his foot. Bailey Tills, Molloy’s replacement on the attack unit, had a solid game as well with four goals and an assist.
“Dylan Molloy is the toughest guy I know who’s ever put on a lacrosse helmet,” said Bears head coach Lars Tiffany. “For him to do what he did today with a broken foot is phenomenal.”
The Terrapins earned a date with North Carolina in the National Championship.
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