Looking Back: Greatest NCAA National Championship Games

Congratulations to the Virginia Cavaliers on winning the 2019 National Championship. The final game of the 2019 season between Virginia and Yale was one of the most exciting in recent years with players diving for ground balls, making big hits, picking corners, and doing everything they could to try and hoist the trophy. Virginia wanted it a little more.

This game reminds us of great National Championships of the past, especially the one goal and overtime wins that cemented players’ names in college lacrosse history forever as champions. Let’s take a look back at some of the best and most memorable National Championships in college lacrosse history.

Cornell vs Maryland 1976

Both Cornell and Maryland came into this game undefeated with several Hall of Famers playing on each team. In front of a big crowd at Brown Stadium, Cornell’s Mike French would score 7 goals and have 4 assists to give Cornell the 16-13 overtime victory. Cornell’s Eamon McEneaney, who died during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, would feed Mike French for the game winning goal.

Syracuse vs Johns Hopkins 1989

Often called “The Greatest Lacrosse Game Ever Played,” this game featured legends of the game on both sides like Dave Pietramala and Quint Kessenich for Hopkins and Paul and Gary Gait, Tom Marechek, and Matt Palumb for Syracuse. In front of over 20,000 fans, the Orange and Blue Jays put on a show of flashy offense and physical defense. Syracuse won 13-12.

Princeton vs Syracuse 1992

The first of Bill Tierney’s six National Championships came in 1992 as the Tigers would face Syracuse who had dominated the last several seasons of college lacrosse. In Double Overtime, Princeton’s Andy Moe scooped the ball up off of the faceoff and streaked down the field to score the game winning goal to give the Tigers the 10-9 win. This was the beginning of Princeton’s decade of dominance.

Princeton vs Syracuse 2001

Princeton and Syracuse would meet again in the National Championship in 2001 with two freshmen being the focal points of each teams’ offenses in Princeton’s Ryan Boyle and Syracuse’s Mike Powell. The game would go down to the wire as Powell would tie the game to send it to Overtime. In overtime, with 41 seconds left, Boyle found B.J. Prager for the game winning goal to win 10-9.

Syracuse vs Navy 2004

This was a special Memorial Day with a service academy in the National Championship and the entire stadium rooting for Navy to win over the powerhouse Syracuse team. Despite a valiant effort by Navy in the pouring rain, Syracuse pulled off the win 14-13 as Mike Powell scored what would be the game winning goal with a minute left to give the Orange another National Championship. This game is a must watch for any lacrosse fan.

Johns Hopkins vs Duke 2007

In a rematch of the 2005 National Championship, Duke was looking to make up for their canceled season in 2006 by winning it all. Johns Hopkins had other plans as they were led by star midfielder Paul Rabil and Goalie Jesse Schwartzman in a back and forth game. Hopkins took the lead with about 3 minutes left off of a Kevin Huntley goal. In a mad scramble in the last minute, Duke got a last second shot off, but Schwartzman made the save and Hopkins survived to win the game 12-11.

Syracuse vs Cornell 2009

Syracuse returned to the National Championship for the second year in a row after winning it all in 2008. 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, but the Orange came storming back to make it 9-8. Cornell got the ball with less than 30 seconds to go and as they tried to clear it Syracuse made one of if not the craziest play in championship history with Kenny Nims scoring to tie it with 4 seconds left. Cody Jamieson would score in Overtime to win it for the Orange.

Notre Dame vs Duke 2010

In the lowest scoring National Championship game in history, a new champion would be crowned as neither Notre Dame or Duke had ever won a championship before. After a game filled with tremendous defense from both teams and an amazing performance in net by Notre Dame goalie Scott Rodgers, the game went to overtime. Off of the opening faceoff, Duke’s CJ Costabile scooped up the ball and charged toward the net scoring the game winning goal to give Duke the 6-5 win and their first ever National Championship in dramatic fashion.

North Carolina vs Maryland 2016

Unseeded North Carolina fought their way through the playoffs all the way to the National Championship were they faced #1 seed Maryland. In a wild game, UNC would tie the game and send it to Overtime, but they also get a penalty with 4 seconds left that carried into the extra frame. In overtime, Maryland started with the ball on a man up and UNC Goalie Brian Balkam smothered a Connor Kelly shot to give UNC a chance. On the other end, Chris Cloutier got a shot on the back side, but Goalie Kyle Bernlohr made an incredible save and in the resulting scrum Maryland got a penalty. Chris Cloutier would then find a lane on the man up and bury the game winning goal giving UNC the 14-13 win and making them the first unseeded team to win a National Championship.

What do you think is the best or most memorable National Championship game? What games did we miss?

One reply on “Looking Back: Greatest NCAA National Championship Games

  • Craig Gordon

    I still think the 1983 Championship game is the greatest ever played. Syracuse erasing a 7 goal deficit in the second half. Watch it you will agree.

    Reply

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