Maryland returns to NCAA title game
FOXOBOROUGH, Mass.—After splitting the regular-season series, Maryland routed Duke in the matchup that mattered most to the ACC rivals.
The Terrapins rattled off six straight goals in the fourth quarter and beat the third-seeded Blue Devils 16-10 on Saturday to advance to the NCAA lacrosse championship game for the second straight year.
Drew Snider tied his career high with four goals, Owen Blye scored three times and Kevin Cooper had a goal and four assists for the Terps, who scored the first three goals of the game and never gave up the lead.
"Duke's a great team. They made a couple runs in the game and fortunately our defense was able to come up with some stops and the offense was able to keep producing all the way until the end of the game," said goalie Niko Amato, who finished with 10 saves.
The Terps (12-5) will play for the national title Monday against top-seeded Loyola, the Baltimore school only 30 miles away from Maryland's campus. Loyola held off Notre Dame 7-5 in the first semifinal.
Nine players scored for Maryland and four of them finished with multiple goals in a shooting performance the Terps' basketball team would envy.
Maryland took 29 shots and 16 found the back of the net.
"We were finding each other in good spots on the field," Snider said. "We all felt really comfortable with our offensive game plan and I thought we were very organized."
Maryland put away the Blue Devils (15-5) with a run of six straight goals after Duke pulled to 10-8 early in the fourth quarter.
"At times this year, we've let teams make runs on us. In the playoffs, our defense has really been able to buckle down and limit the momentum," Amato said. "We really just concentrated on getting the next stop and giving the ball back to our offense because they knew they were going to be able to do something with it."
Duke hadn't allowed more than 15 goals in a game this season.
"The Maryland kids were sharp. They shot very well and put the ball on each other's sticks," Duke coach John Danowski said. "I thought they were much more confident than we were."
Duke's Dan Wigrizer allowed 13 goals before being pulled in the fourth quarter as Maryland put the game out of reach.
The Blue Devils unraveled quickly after making it close.
Robert Rotanz pulled Duke to 10-8 with an unassisted goal 2:16 into the fourth quarter. It was his second of the game and 40th of the season, but Maryland answered right away on Snider's goal with 12:17 left.
"We know the game was close, but we did have the lead so we weren't panic or anything like that," Maryland defenseman Jesse Bernhardt said. "I think we did a great job of controlling the tempo and our offense did a great job possessing the ball and putting it in the back of the net."
Blye bounced a shot past Wigrizer for his second goal of the game, putting the Terps up 12-8 with 10:09 left, then Joe Cummings added another for Maryland just 59 seconds later. It was the 31st goal of the season for Cummings, who also had three assists and leads the Terps in scoring.
Now down 13-8 minutes after pulling within two, Duke called a timeout after Cummings' goal with 9:10 left.
It didn't help.
Duke also replaced Wigrizer in goal with Kyle Turri, who charged way out to try an intercept a pass, leaving a wide-open net for Blye's third goal of the game, putting Maryland up 14-8 with 6:01 remaining. Turri got caught out of position again with 5:02 to go and Kevin Forster took advantage with his second goal of the game.
Sean McGuire made it 16-8 with his first goal of the season with only 2:57 remaining.
Duke finally ended the Terps' scoring run when he scored with 1:27 left as both teams sent in the reserves to finish out the game.
"You could see it looked bad, but we didn't play up to the level we've been these past couple weeks, which makes it kind of disappointing," said Justin Turri, who scored twice for Duke. "We just didn't do a good job of being patient enough."