The Maryland Terrapins showed the heart of a champion at Villanova Sunday night coming back from an uncharacteristically shaky start, and a 9-6 halftime deficit to take an 11-9 lead then coming back to tie it again after falling behind 12-11 but their dreams of a perfect season and an eleventh NCAA National Championship ended in a gut wrenching 13-12
five three overtime loss to the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Before I go into the details of the game, I’ll get my rant out of the way.
Regular readers of my posts know that I am loath to criticize officiating and especially hesitant to pin a loss on a referee’s call or non-call. In Sunday’s game, I will be the first to say that Maryland had a number of opportunities that, had they converted, would have given them the title. However, I firmly believe that Maryland actually won Sunday’s game 12-11 in regulation. There were any number of officiating decisions that raised my hackles as a fan but those are all subjective. The one moment I will not ignore, however, is objective. Kara Cannizzaro’s game tying goal came with her foot clearly in the crease and from one angle on the replay it looked as though she might have stepped in the crease before the shot then a second time while taking it.. The goal should have been disallowed and Maryland should have won 12-11 in regulation. That level of incompetence shouldn’t happen in a high school game let alone an NCAA Championship game. Not that it means much but the officials owe Maryland a letter of apology. Rant over.
Carolina controlled the opening draw and a slip on the attack gave the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead just 39 seconds into the game. A foul on the draw gave the Heels possession and an inadvertent whistle caused a jump ball that Maryland won. The Terps failed to clear and a UNC attack from behind with a spin roll similar to several successful scores by Syracuse Friday night resulted in another score and a 2-0 Tar Heel lead. Taylor Cummings controlled the third draw but her long pass went over Alex Aust’s head and was retrieved by Carolina’s goalie. The turnover led to a third UNC score. Cummings went back into the center and Beth Glaros picked up the ball on the draw. Brooke Griffin hit a streaking Cummings and the Terps were finally on the board. North Carolina bounced back quickly winning the draw and scoring on a bounce shot to again lead by three. On the ensuing draw, the ball rolled deep into Maryland’s attacking zone before Cummings gathered it in and the situation quickly led to a free position chance for Erin Collins who converted to pull the Terps closer at 4-2.
Glaros again captured the ball on the drop and Maryland worked the ball for a shot from Griffin that was blocked but Collins came out of the scrum with the ground ball and Cannizzaro picked up a yellow card on the play. The Terps failed to capitalize on the player advantage as they tried to squeeze a pass into tight quarters and the resulting turnover not only allowed Carolina to kill the penalty but to score their fifth goal and again lead by three at the first TV timeout.
Coming out of the time out, it was Iliana Sanza who picked up the ball on the draw and she passed it to Alice Mercer for the clear. Cummings scored on a high to low shot on her free position chance after Carolina was called for a three second violation. The freshman controlled the draw and this time her longish pass found the crosse of Katie Schwarzmann and the senior midfielder split two Tar Heel defenders and whipped a sidearm shot to pull Maryland within one at 5-4. The one goal deficit soon deepened to three as North Carolina came back with consecutive scores of their own. Glaros played a key role in bringing the Terps back within two as she picked up the ground ball on the draw and a few seconds later scored on a free position shot. Neother team scored over the next several minutes which included a missed shot by Aust that was blocked by a kick save, some sloppy play and some solid defense by both squads. Carolina broke the nearly seven minute drought scoring to go ahead 8-5 but Maryland again answered with Collins controlling the draw and Griffin scoring on a pass from Aust. On the Tar Heels next possession, Kasey Howard recorded her first save of the game but Maryland couldn’t control the rebound and the Terps found themselves in the same three goal hole that they’d dug for themselves at the outset.
UNC drew another yellow card on the following draw but another poor Maryland pass resulted in yet another Terrapin turnover that allowed the Heels to kill the penalty. With both teams back at full strength, Carolina held the ball for a last shot opportunity but a lapse in concentration caused a Tar Heel turnover with second to go in the half. Maryland tried to clear but UNC intercepted the pass and attacked quickly. The final shot bounced off Sanza’s face left her with a bloody nose and a black eye and drew their third yellow card of the half as time expired. The 9-6 deficit marked the first time this season the Terrapins had trailed at halftime.
As a result of the foul, Maryland opened the second half with possession and a player advantage. Schwarzmann easily ran the ball into the offensive zone and the Terps ran their offense until Cummings earned a free position chance that UNC’s goalie saved. Aust’s pressure forced her out of the crease and into the field of play and she back checked the ball loose. Collins picked up the ground ball and saw Schwarzmann streaking toward the net. The officials waved off her apparent goal calling Maryland for either being offside or for a dangerous shot (even ESPN’s barely competent announcers were unsure) and Carolina for a shooting space violation. The Terps won the toss and Cummings scored to cut the margin back to two. Megan Douty picked up the next draw but UNC’s pressure kept forcing her back into Maryland’s defensive zone and eventually caused a turnover. Howard saved Cannizzaro’s shot and the Carolina senior was -ironically as it would turn out – called for a crease violation. Maryland cleared the ball and triggering from behind the net, Griffin hit a cutting Glaros whose shot from the right side squeezed in near the left post. With the Terrapins trailing by only one, Cummings controlled the draw, sprinted down the sideline, quickly passed the ball to Griffin who attacked with a split dodge and spin to score falling down that knotted the score at nine apiece.
Cummings continued to dominate in the circle and again controlled the draw for Maryland. Aust had a free position chance but her bouncing shot flew wide. The Terps held possession and soon Schwarzmann would draw a free postion chance. The senior midfielder converted and just 6:33 into the second half the Terrapins had gone on a 4-0 run to take their first lead of the game. Maryland’s scoring run continued as Kelly McPartland forced a high pass the went out of bounds giving the Terps possession and the lead going into the first TV timeout of the second half.
Working from behind the net, Griffin again acted as the trigger and she hit Schwarzmann cutting down the middle for a score that put the Terps up 11-9. Carolina finally stopped the bleeding controlling the draw and turning the possession into a goal to close within one. Maryland had the chance to get the lead back to two when the Tar Heels were called for an illegal cradle on the ensuing draw. However, after controlling the ball for several minutes, Aust’s second shot of the possession caromed wide and the Terps were called for a pushing foul. This change of possession led to the crease invading game tying goal. Adding insult to injury for Maryland fans, Cannizzaro was awarded a free position on Carolina’s next possession and she converted to put the Heels back in front.
On Carolina’s next possession, Megan Douty received a yellow card for getting her stick in an attackers face. Maryland killed the penalty and Glros pressured Cannizzaro into a poor pass that Schwarzmann intercepted. The Terps ran their offense patiently and with 3:51 to go in regulation, Aust came from behind the net with a dodge to score her first goal of the night and seventieth of the season to tie the score at twelve.
North Carolina controlled the draw but Maryland’s pressure, led by McPartland, forced the Tar Heels into a turnover. With a minute and fifty three seconds remaining, Aust repeated her dodge from two minutes earlier but her shot was just high. The Terps covered and held the ball for a last shot. Schwarzmann made a strong charge down the middle but Carolina’s defense collapsed and a strong stick check knocked the crosse from her hands. The Tar Heels picked up the ground ball and let the clock expire.
The goalies, who collectively had four saves in regulation, would shine in the overtimes. First, it was Howard who stopped a point blank one on one shot after UNC took the opening draw and sprinted through Maryland’s defense. Then it was Carolina’s turn. First on a point blank shot by Cummings who had made a strong attack then making a kick save on a free position try by Glaros after Carolina drew another yellow card. Neither goalie had a save in the second three minute half of the first overtime though the Terps managed a Taylor Cummings free position. She elected to pass rather than drive for a shot with thirty seconds left and the Terps final shot by Glaros from near the top of the eight meter was easily saved.
The second overtime becomes sudden victory and again Howard came up huge making three saves including one on a Carolina free position early in the second. The Terps had a chance when Carolina drew yet another yellow card but Glaros was called for a charge and the Terps lost their player advantage when she received a yellow card. Maryland had one more golden chance in the third overtime when, on the opening draw, the Terps drew a foul and Griffin was behind the defense but her high shot was saved and Carolina countered quickly scoring in a chaotic situation to hand the Terps their only loss of the year in the toughest game of the year to lose.
Todd Carton (AKA FHFAN)