PHILADELPHIA – The No. 1 ranked Maryland Terrapins let the national championship slip through their fingers once again as they fell to the University of North Carolina 14-13 in overtime. It snapped the team’s 16-game winning streak and has extended the Terrapins’ title drought to 41 years. “The closer you get, the harder it is […]
PHILADELPHIA – The No. 1 ranked Maryland Terrapins let the national championship slip through their fingers once again as they fell to the University of North Carolina 14-13 in overtime. It snapped the team’s 16-game winning streak and has extended the Terrapins’ title drought to 41 years.
“The closer you get, the harder it is when you lose,” said Maryland Head Coach John Tillman, who is now 0-4 in championship finals with the Terps. “But sometimes you have to step back. I have so many friends that coached, and they don’t get this far, and they felt this too, and every team always feels this way. So you have a lot of mixed emotions with that. It just keeps going back to our players, especially our seniors knowing that this was the last game for them, and just wanting to see them smile so badly and just wanting to see them happy right now.”
Nearly 27,000 fans were in attendance as North Carolina came out on fire, quickly jumping out to a 4-0 lead. The Terrapins retaliated with a four-goal rally of their own fueled by junior Dylan Maltz to tie the game.
The Terrapins’ leading scorer Matt Rambo scored two of his three goals before the half to give Maryland an 8-7 lead. Rambo finished the tournament with 23 points, setting a new Terrapins record previously held by Andrew Whipple who had 18 points back in 1998.
The second half was just as closely contested as the first with three lead changes, and neither team lead by more than two points early on. Then, Chris Cloutier exploded for the Tar Heels by scoring three goals in three minutes to set a new NCAA Tournament record for goals with 18. The Tar Heels led 10-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
“That’s us in a nutshell. It’s not always pretty,” North Carolina coach Joe Breschi said. “But Brian [Balkam] stuck with it. He’s got great heart. We told him after the Loyola game, ‘You’ve got to step up your game (in the net). Just like anyone, if guys aren’t doing the job, we’ll replace them.’ He’s did a nice job of commanding respect from the defense.”
The Terrapins started the fourth quarter on a 4-1 run to take a 13-11 lead, but North Carolina attacker Luke Goldstock scored a pair to deadlock the game at 13.
With (2:18) remaining, the Terrapins turned the ball over on an over and back call which North Carolina answered by doing the exact same thing. Maryland attacker Colin Heacock then got a wide open look for the go-ahead goal, but his attempt rang the crossbar with (1:06) to play. Maryland then held for the final shot which was saved by North Carolina goalkeeper Brian Balkam and then rolled wide of the cage.
North Carolina lost their composure and picked up a bad penalty with (3.9) seconds left. The Terps took the man-advantage and possession into overtime where it seemed very likely that they were going to score and walk away with a championship.
However, North Carolina played masterful defense and got a huge save while short-handed to flip the field on the Terrapins.
“The guys in front of me rotated quick and gave up the shot I wanted to see,” Balkam said. “I was lucky to make the save. I knew that we had struggled a little bit man-down. Usually that’s one of the strong points of our team. What better time to make a stop on man-down in overtime to win the national championship?”
With that mindset, it led to the Tar Heels looking to end the game in that fashion. Nevertheless, Maryland’s Kyle Bernlohr came across his crease (while out of position) and contorted his body to snatch the ball and make an amazing save. Maryland’s luck then ran out as they picked up a penalty which led to the end of their incredible season.
Cloutier buried the game winner on the man-advantage to win the first National Championship for the Tar Heels since 1991.
Maryland’s heartbreak was hard to swallow as this senior class won a program record of 55 games and appeared in three Final Fours.
“When you lose, it’s a tough one,” said Maltz. “Those seniors do so much for you throughout the year, and you build such good bonds with them throughout the season and the fall. To just see us not come out on top, we’re all sad, and just to see the seniors especially, it’s the worst feeling you can imagine.”