Maryland men's lacrosse will clash with North Carolina in the national championship game in what could end up being one of the best lacrosse games of the year.
The Tar Heels punched their championship ticket by steamrolling over Loyola 18-13, never letting up after taking a seven-goal lead in the first quarter. The Terps' path wasn't so easy. It took a nerve-wracking overtime goal by Colin Heacock to beat Brown, who mounted a furious comeback to push Maryland to the brink.
Both programs are looking to end their longstanding championship droughts. The Tar Heels last took the title in 1991, but haven't been back to the championship game since 1993. The Terps have made title appearances in four of the last six seasons, but have come up short every time.
One of these droughts will be broken, and one will wait to be determined next season.
When and Where: 1 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
How to Watch: ESPN2
North Carolina Tar Heels (11-6, 3-1)
Head Coach Joe Breschi
Whatever Breschi did to revitalize his offense, its worked. They manhandled preseason No. 1 Notre Dame 13-7 in the quarterfinals, and followed it by coasting past Loyola. Breschi is one of the most respected coaches in all of college lacrosse, but Tillman has become an incessant thorn in Breschi's side the past couple of years. Maryland throttled the Tar Heels 14-7 in last year's semifinals, and again this year at Maryland stadium. As far as Breschi's concerned, both teams are 0-0, and this is the only game that matters for either coach.
Players to Know
Chris Cloutier- Attack/ Mid
The Tar Heels are getting a massive boost from the sophomore midfielder. The Canadian native finished the regular season poorly, scoring just three goals in his final six games. Since the start of the Tournament, Cloutier has netted 14, including a record-setting nine against Loyola in the semifinals.
Stephen "Bones" Kelly- Faceoff Specialist
Since faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen returned from injury, the Terps have had a wildly inconsistent faceoff game. Luckily for Tillman, the offense is so efficient that they can afford to lose possessions. But "Bones" Kelly is going to be a serious problem come Monday, who's coming off a dominant semifinal performance with 19 wins at the X.
Making smart decisions on offense
The Terps bested a wildly chaotic yet terrifying offense in Brown, but they're not going to have the luxury of turnovers on their side. The Tar Heels have just as much firepower as the Bears do, only they average five less turnovers per game. They're also incredibly efficient with their shots, converting on 32-percent which is good for 12th in the nation.
Brian Balkam has made great strides as a sophomore and shows that he'll be the man between the posts for a long time. Still, his saves per game are one of the lowest of any elite program, and has yet to prove himself on the games' biggest stage.