After the Maryland men's lacrosse team's NCAA quarterfinal victory over Albany, no one celebrated a fourth straight trip to the Final Four.
The mass of Terps in white and red uniforms on the sideline did not rush the field as they had following their Big Ten tournament win against Ohio State two weeks before. And coach John Tillman kept a serious face while waving his players toward the benches.
Just two wins away from its first national championship since 1975, No. 1 seed Maryland isn't satisfied with another Final Four appearance. Instead, the Terps turned their attention to No. 5 seed Denver, their semifinal opponent that bested them in the title game two years ago.
"We've [moved past the quarterfinals] before and we have bigger goals in mind," midfielder Nick Manis said. "We want to be celebrating on the last day."
While Maryland progressed in the faceoff X during its 18-9 drubbing of Albany, going 16-for-30 after failing to take more than half its draws in five of its previous six contests, the Terps didn't dwell on their success. After all, Denver possesses the top-ranked faceoff unit in the country.
So, following a week of preparation for Great Danes faceoff specialist TD Ierlan, the Terps expended similar energy getting ready for Pioneers specialist Trevor Baptiste, a Tewaaraton Award finalist who leads to nation with a .757 success rate on draws.
Against Ierlan, who entered with the second-best draw percentage, specialist Jon Garino won 12-of-14 faceoffs. His effort, which defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen attributed to scrappy physical play, helped Maryland control the X and dominate possession.
"It allowed us to have the ball a lot more," defender Tim Muller said. "Scoring and then being able to get the ball back was something that allowed the … offense to get into a rhythm and just keep the ball. It gives you a lot of energy."
Tillman hopes the Terps can replicate that success against Baptiste in the Final Four, but he acknowledged the junior is the best specialist the team has prepared for this season.
In addition to Baptiste's faceoff supremacy – he went 21-for-22 in a quarterfinal win over Notre Dame – the 5-foot-10, 220-pounder poses an offensive threat. He scored his 12th goal of the year against the Fighting Irish, a remarkable figure considering his limited time on the field.
"That is something that we've got to be really careful of," Tillman said.
When Baptiste was a freshman in the 2015 national championship game, he won 10-of-19 faceoffs against former Maryland standout Charlie Raffa, a two-time All-American senior. That helped Denver beat the Terps, 10-5, extending Maryland's title drought to 40 years.
Tillman has called the Terps' string of painful losses, including a Final Four defeat to Notre Dame in 2014 and title game setback to North Carolina last season, scars the program will "always live with." But he's emphasized using those difficult moments as motivation to push forward.
The Terps enter the Final Four with more semifinals experience than the other three teams combined. The senior class has won a program-record 59 games. On Wednesday, nine players were named All-Americans, more than any other squad in the nation.
But the search for a title continues.
"We've been here so many times," Davis-Allen said, "and we want that final goal so bad."