SYRACUSE, NEW YORK — SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- This time, there were no last-quarter rallies and no last-minute goals, only disappointment for a team that ran out of miracles.
Towson State University's lacrosse team staged a six-goal comeback in the third period yesterday, but in the end No. 1-ranked North Carolina had too much depth, speed and Dennis Goldstein, as the Tar Heels defeated Towson, 18-13, in the championship game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I tournament at the Carrier Dome.
"I thought we played as hard as we possibly could," said Towson coach Carl Runk. "We're not a team with a great deal of depth, and I think the Carrier Dome's heat and North Carolina's depth [11 Tar Heels scored] took its toll on us. When we came within a goal, we reached down, but there was nothing left."
Towson (12-4), the tournament's 11th seed, had advanced to the championship game with last-minute victories over No. 6 seed Virginia and No. 3 seed Princeton (in triple overtime) and a fourth-quarter rally against No. 7 seed Maryland.
The Tigers, only the second 11th-seeded team to reach the championship game in the 21-year history of the tournament, kept the crowd of 8,293 on its feet yesterday, especially when midfielder Doug Sharretts scored to bring Towson within 13-12 with 8:40 left in the game.
But North Carolina, which had lost in the semifinals in the past two years, were not to be denied. The Tar Heels (16-0) won five of the next six faceoffs and scored the game's next five goals.
Goldstein, a senior attackman from Stony Brook, N.Y., who finished with four goals and four assists, was unstoppable.
He assisted on midfielder's Joe Bedell's goal with 5:34 left to put the Tar Heels ahead, 14-12. He then hit attackman Michael Thomas cutting across the crease for another goal with 3:38 left.
Finally, Goldstein caught the carom of a Tim Speers shot on the right side of the cage for the Tar Heels last goal, with 1:13 left to play.
"Dennis Goldstein has been a quality player for us all year," said North Carolina coach Dave Klarmann. "There were times when he just made great individual efforts. He one of the reasons why we've been able to win close games."
Another reason is depth, especially at midfield. Towson State uses only five midfielders. North Carolina plays with 15. When the heat in the Carrier Dome -- over 80 degrees -- caused some Towson players to get cramps or tire, Runk asked several of his players to run extra shifts.
Klarmann went to his bench.
"They had a nice transition game and capitalized on it," said Runk. "They ran and ran us. We thought that if we stayed close until the final period, we would become the sentimental favorite of the crowd."
Klarmann said: "The difference was in the numbers. The fourth period has been ours all year. It's good to know that when the fourth quarter comes around, you have and know you have guys with fresh legs. There is no other difference between us, Towson and Syracuse."
The Tar Heels did have an advantage in postseason experience over Towson, which didn't win its first playoff game until this season. The inexperience showed in the first quarter.
Towson didn't get into an offensive groove, and North Carolina also controlled nine of 12 faceoffs. The Tar Heels led, 8-3, at the end of the first period.
Runk said he made a strategic error in the first half in opening with and staying with a zone defense.
"My mistake," said Runk. "I had not seen North Carolina play all year, but I heard they had trouble against Loyola's zone, so I went with it."
It really didn't matter. Many of North Carolina's goals were scored off the transition. By the end of the half, the Tar Heels were leading, 11-4, and were on the verge of breaking the game open.
"At halftime, we went in and said we didn't come here to hand North Carolina the title," said Towson attackman John Blatchley. We're a team that plays on emotion, so we came out pumped in the third period."
No one seemed more pumped than Blatchley and fellow attackman Glenn Smith. Each of them scored three goals, as did midfielder Rob Shek. Blatchley and Smith scored twice each in the third period, Blatchley's second goal cutting North Carolina's lead to 11-8 with 4:16 left in the third quarter.
Smith, posting North Carolina defenders up outside the crease, scored the final goal of the period with 13 seconds left to pull Towson within 12-10. Smith hit the left pipe of the goal as the whistle sounded to end the period.
While Towson's offense was in high gear, Runk had his defense playing man-to-man, which held North Carolina to one third-period goal.
"We knew we were back in the ballgame," said Shek, "especially when we pulled within 13-12. But we just didn't have enough."
"Adrenalin will only take you so far," said Runk. "We're disappointed, but we had one heck of a season."
Towson State .... 3 .. 1 .. 6 .. 3 .. -- .. 13
North Carolina .. 8 .. 3 .. 1 .. 6 .. -- .. 18
Goals: TS--Shek 3, Smith 3, Blatchley 3, Sharretts 2, Dixon, Millon; NC--Goldstein 4, Seremet 3, Webster 2, Bedell 2, Donnolly, Acee, Levy, McNichols, Spears, Wade, Thomas. Assists: TS--Blatchley 2, Smith 2, DeSimone, Dixon; NC--Goldstein 4, Webster 2, Thomas, Buczek, McNichols, Hasslinger, Speers, Gilhuley. Saves: TS--Betcher 21; NC--Piazza 9, Daye 2. Shots: TS 48, NC 59. Ground balls: TS 56; NC 79. Faceoffs: TS 11, NC 23. Extra-man goals: TS 3-8; NC 4-6.