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EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Maryland got its Memorial Day dogpile Monday, its chance to snip the nets, its celebration on a steamy late May afternoon.

And, really, that was the unquestioned aim of these Terrapins, who capped an undefeated season with a 9-7 defeat of Cornell before 22,184 at Rentschler Field.

Maryland became the first undefeated champion since Virginia in 2006 and just the fourth in the last 30 years.

“Whether people want to say we’re the best team ever, we’re national champions,” sixth-year midfielder Anthony DeMaio said. “And that’s all that matters.”

Especially for a team that came as close as it did to saying so 364 days earlier on the same field, instead absorbing a 17-16 loss to Virginia to spoil what would have been another unblemished run.

Now, these top-seeded Terps (18-0) have an NCAA tournament title of their own, the fourth in school history. They can point to goalie Logan McNaney, who earned most outstanding player honors with 17 saves Monday and a .709 save percentage for the postseason.

They got a fabulous final flourish from DeMaio, the last remaining player on the roster from the 2017 national title team who had four goals and an assist in what was finally his last college game.

And they got the usual work from Logan Wisnauskas, the Tewaaraton Award favorite who had two goals and two assists in his last outing as a Terp to set the school record for points in a season with 103, passing former teammate Jared Bernhardt’s 99 points from a year ago.

But it was as harrowing as things have gotten for this team, as seventh-seeded Cornell (14-5) chipped away at a deficit as large as seven to introduce at least a smidgen of uncertainty into the final minute.

“We expected it to be hard and obviously built a little bit of a cushion and hung on,” Tillman said. “I’m not sure what would have happened if there was another quarter.”

Given where things were headed, he probably doesn’t want to know. Yet Maryland did enough right —especially at the defensive end — in the first 35 minutes to survive a shaky finish.

CJ Kirst scored the first of his two goals to open the scoring, putting Maryland in the rare position of facing a deficit. But DeMaio ripped off a natural hat trick to help the Terps go up 4-1 after the first quarter, then assisted long pole Owen Prybylski’s transition goal early in the second to further stretch things out.

Wisnauskas sandwiched the final two goals of his Maryland career around halftime, and then assisted to Jonathan Donville on the crease with 11:55 left in the third to make it 9-2.

Meanwhile, the Terps’ defense smothered a Cornell offense capable of zipping the ball around about as well as anyone other than perhaps Maryland. With Matt Rahill marking John Piatelli and Ajax Zappitello marking Michael Long, neither Cornell attackman had a point in the first half.

McNaney largely gobbled up everything, snagging 10 saves in the first half as Maryland extended its lead.

“Overcommunication,” McNaney said of the Terps’ priority. “We knew going into the game we had a solid game plan.  We knew their guys were very capable of moving the ball around, dodging our shorties, our long sticks, but we knew that they were going to spin the ball around, cut, move around, kind of make us turn our heads a little bit, slide.  But we had a good game plan going into it.”

The Terps needed it considering how things nearly unraveled from there. Maryland committed 14 of its season-high 22 turnovers in the second half, and converted 25 of 30 clears against the energetic Cornell ride.

The Big Red closed within 9-6 with 7:27 to go, but couldn’t muster another goal until Piatelli finally scored his 66th goal of the season with 35.3 seconds left, breaking a tie with Cornell legend Mike French for the most in a single year in school history.

“Towards the end of the game, I knew we were just hanging on,” defenseman Gavin Adler said. “We knew this was our last time, regardless, no matter what the score was.  We had to leave it all out there.  I think you really saw that come out of us in the fourth quarter.  We just ran out of time.”

Maryland sealed it with Luke Wierman’s ensuing faceoff win, and fifth-year senior Bubba Fairman — who moved to defensive midfield after starting for four seasons on offense — held on to the ball running out the clock.

“I knew they were going to come up with stops,” DeMaio said. “Yeah, we were gassed, but we had so much faith in them.”

It matched the closest game of the season for Maryland, which upended Notre Dame 11-9 on March 5, and it was a fitting effort for a Cornell team that began the year as something of an unknown with a new coaching staff and a roster that had turned over heavily since it last took the field in March 2020.

But culturally, little changes in Ithaca, and the Big Red’s first title game appearance since 2009 illustrated the toughness so long associated with the program.

“They do a lot of things great on tape, but we thought we had the ability to beat that team,” coach Connor Buczek said. “With that being said, they were awesome. They managed our offense really well. I thought our defense played as well as they possibly could.”

Truth be told, Maryland’s probably did, too, in both games this weekend in New England. It held each of its last five opponents — each an NCAA tournament team — to single digits. In the postseason, the Terps yielded just 7.25 goals a game.

It was a far cry from allowing 17 in a game to close out last year, and it led to a very different experience as the finality of the season arrived.

“I’ve never felt this in my life before,” Maryland defenseman Brett Makar said. “This kind of feeling is really indescribable. I’m getting teared up just thinking about how much it took to get back here.”

All that effort, and as a result the Terps became champions — the only thing that mattered all along to Maryland.