Ahead of No. 7 Maryland men’s lacrosse’s matchup with No. 4 Notre Dame, coach John Tillman said if the Terps were down late, there was belief his team could get a needed possession because of Luke Wierman’s strength at the faceoff X and Logan McNaney’s ability to protect the cage.

Maryland trailed by three goals with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Its deficit never shrunk. Wierman lost his next four faceoffs and McNaney failed to record a save. Each of the Irish’s three shots on goal found the back of the net.

The Terps’ stars had subpar outings in South Bend. The rest of the team stumbled as well, which led to Maryland’s first loss of 2024.

“Those guys are human,” Tillman said. “Some weeks they’re gonna have better games than others.”

Wierman struggled most in the first and fourth quarters, both of which saw the Terps fall into an early deficit and struggle to mount a comeback. Maryland’s all-time faceoff win record holder won only four of his 13 faceoffs in those periods.

Wierman’s inability to win late faceoffs allowed Notre Dame to run the clock and limit the Terps’ offensive possessions down the stretch.

[No. 6 Notre Dame hands No. 3 Maryland men’s lacrosse first loss of 2024, 14-9]

Chris Kavanagh’s goal to extend the Irish’s lead to four came with less than 20 seconds on the shot clock. More than a minute had passed since the last faceoff. Notre Dame held possession for that entire span.

Another faceoff loss — paired with a Maryland penalty — allowed the Irish to burn nearly 90 seconds off the clock after turning the ball over.

An Eric Malever goal trimmed the Terps’ deficit to three with about four minutes remaining. But Wierman’s loss on the subsequent faceoff — and another Maryland penalty — allowed Notre Dame to milk more than a minute off the clock before scoring another goal, effectively sealing the victory.

Wierman finished with his lowest faceoff win rate, 48 percent, this season.

“I feel like there were some ones Luke would like to have back,” Tillman said.

Like Wierman, McNaney had his worst outing this year against the Irish — his 39 percent save percentage was nearly 15 percentage points worse than his previous season-low against No. 9 Syracuse. The loss was just the third of McNaney’s career.

The matchup wasn’t easy for McNaney. He faced the fourth-best offense among all Division I schools, and multiple Notre Dame’s goals were open looks as the Terps’ defense collapsed in front of McNaney.

[Maryland men’s lacrosse eyes revenge in high-octane rematch with Notre Dame]

“If teams are getting the ball to spots we want to try and prevent — inside, close range, middle of the field — it’s going to make it hard for any goalie, including Logan,” Tillman said. “I’m not sure we set Logan up for success.”

But even when his defense handled itself well, McNaney was still outmatched at times. His reaction time wasn’t quick enough to handle the Irish’s creative, fast and powerful shots.

McNaney also had a direct impact on Kavanagh’s second quarter goal. He threw the ball directly to the Notre Dame attacker for a turnover on an unsuccessful clear — an area of focus for the Terps during their practice week. McNaney couldn’t return to his cage quick enough to save Kavanagh’s shot.

Maryland struggled in many areas against Notre Dame. Too much physicality resulted in a season-high four penalties, its offense shot just 25 percent, its defense allowed a season-worst shot percentage and it failed a season-high six clear attempts, which resulted in three Irish goals.

It was the Terps’ worst game of the season.

Wierman and McNaney played key roles in the outcome, restricting both the offense and defense as the team’s leaders. The specialists didn’t play their best against the defending national champions and Maryland was hampered by its stars’ lackluster showings.