The Maryland men's lacrosse program will get yet another crack at claiming its first National Championship since 1975 thanks to a thrilling 15-14 overtime victory over Brown on Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
The No. 1 overall-seed Terrapins (17-2) allowed the Bears (16-3) to force overtime thanks to a four-goal comeback in the final six minutes of regulation, with the game-tying goal coming with just over one minute remaining.
Maryland lost the opening faceoff in overtime, but got possession following a loose ball. After settling in to their offensive formation, a defensive breakdown by Brown allowed junior Matt Rambo to find fellow junior Colin Heacock wide-open in front of the goal.
Heacock pump-faked, then buried the game-winning goal past first-team All-American goalie Jack Kelly to end the game.
The afternoon semifinal was destined for an epic finish.
The two teams put on a show for four quarters, with both squads feeling the wild ebbs and flows of a major college lacrosse game.
Maryland jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to two goals in the game's opening minutes. Before too long Maryland held a 4-1 lead.
But that's when Tewaarton Award finalist Dylan Molloy, who was questionable heading into the game due to a foot injury sustained in an opening round victory over Johns Hopkins, led the Bears back. Molloy scored on a nifty inside roll dodge to beat senior goalie Kyle Bernlohr, and Bailey Tillis provided perhaps the goal of the tournament, beating Bernlohr with a reverse underhand shot while dodging on a defending from just and the goal line.
Brown rallied off four straight goals to take a 5-4 lead, but Maryland Midfielder Connor Kelly responded with a goal from the outside thanks to textbook placement to even the score at 5-5 heading into the second quarter.
The two teams traded the lead in the second, with Maryland defender Matt Dunn evening the score once again thanks to a goal from nearly 60-feet away.
In the third quarter, the Terps took a stranglehold on the game, scoring four straight goals to take a 12-8 lead. Brown was able to finally break the second-half seal thanks to a broken-play goal from Tillis with 23 seconds left.
Maryland started the fourth quarter just like the third, scoring three consecutive goals and jumped ahead 14-10 with nine minutes remaining and the game looked to be over. But such is the nature of lacrosse. Like in basketball, where a double-digit lead can be earsed in mere moments, so too can a four-goal lead.
But things were starting to look bleak for the Ivy League champions.
Despite Kelly coming up large in goal for Brown with 11 second-half saves, the Bears were done in by countless turnovers. Brown had an astonishing 24 turnovers on Saturday, and despite coughing up the ball four times over the last nine minutes, their offensive firepower, and dominance at the faceoff (they won 20 of 32 faceoffs) allowed them to rally from behind scoring the final four goals of regulation.
Kelly finished with 14 saves for Brown, while Bernlohr finished with 11 in the victory. Heacock and fellow attackman Dylan Maltz both netted three goals for the Terps, with Heacock adding an assist as well. Rambo, the team's unabashed leader, had just one goal, but tallied five assists, including the game-winner.
Molloy, who will have foot surgery on Tuesday, finished with with two very gutsy goals. Tillis had by far his best game of the season, finishing with a game-high four goals, and one assist as well. Henry Blynn and Brandon Caputo each scored twice for the Bears.
Maryland advances to the 2016 NCAA Championship Game on Monday afternoon and will face North Carolina (11-6), which defeated Loyola (MD) 18-13 thanks to Chris Cloutier's Final Four record nine goals. The Terps defeated the Tar Heels 11-8 when the two teams met in non-conference play back on March 28.
But the stakes are much different now. Maryland, winners of 16 straight, are looking for their first NCAA title since 1975 despite this being their fourth championship game appearance since 2011. North Carolina last won an NCAA lacrosse championship in 1994 and is looking to become the first unseeded team to win a national championship.
The final game of the 2016 lacrosse season takes place Monday at 1 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Penn.