North Carolina weathered a soggy field and a late Maryland rally to take an 8-6 victory yesterday and put itself in position to take over the No. 1 spot in The Sun's top 10.
Combined with Johns Hopkins' 16-6 victory over No. 1 Virginia at Homewood Field, the victory over the Terps makes it likely that No. 2 North Carolina will assume the poll's top spot.
The Terrapins tried just about everything to prevent it.
North Carolina's Dennis Goldstein scored two crucial goals in the fourth quarter, helping his team stymie Maryland's frantic comeback attempt. His last goal, with seven seconds left in the game, silenced the Denton Field crowd of 3,112, that 30 seconds before had watched Eric Elfstrum cut Carolina's lead to 7-6.
Minutes before the game, the sun peaked through the clouds, but the rain that punished the field Friday, would be a factor early on.
No. 6 Maryland opened up the scoring when a streaking Craig Bullen forced a one-on-one with defenseman Brian Kelly (Calvert Hall). Kelly lost his footing on the soft ground outside the crease, and watched from the turf as Bullen scored.
After Robin Cornish and Joe Bedell scored from up close, beating Maryland goalie Steve Kavovit from close range to take the 2-1 lead, Kelly again fell victim to a darting Maryland attackman and a wrong step. Rob Wurzburger isolated Kelly 20 feet from the goal and when Kelly slipped, Wurzburger went in to score four minutes into the second quarter.
Kelly would make few missteps thereafter, as he restricted Wurzburger, the Terps' top goal scorer, to an assist for the rest of the game.
"We knew it was going to be a tight game because Maryland is so talented," Kelly said. "The key was the matchup between our defense and their attack. They had possession for a lot longer than us in the first half and our man-to-man defense worked well against them."
After Wurzburger's goal, Maryland had several opportunities to take the lead when the Tar Heels were whistled for slashing and unnecessary roughness penalties. But Carolina's swarming man-to-man defense stopped the Terps.
"They're a good team that deserves a lot of credit," said Mark Douglas, who led Maryland with three goals. "They have great team speed, so we were trying to slow the game down and not let them get into transition. I give our defense all the credit. They held a team that scores 20 goals a game to only eight. Our offense has got to come through, and we didn't hit the shots when we needed to hit them."
Only 30 seconds into the third quarter, Douglas scored the first of his two straight goals. Less than a minute later, he took a feed from Wurzburger and cranked in a shot from 20 feet. The score gave Maryland its largest lead, 4-2.
Then the Tar Heels took control. Consecutive goals by Jim Buczek, Dan Donnelly and Donnie McNichol put Carolina ahead, 5-4.