COLLEGE PARK -- As the final seconds ticked down, the Maryland players began to pile on goalie Brian Dougherty. First it was Dan Radebaugh. Then Paal Elfstrum and Dave LaChapelle.
Only a few feet away, Johns Hopkins coach Tony Seaman was kneeling by himself, plucking a few strands of grass from the field. Seaman had talked all year about playing the last game in May, but this was not what he had expected.
No. 4 Maryland pulled one of the biggest upsets in the 25-year history of the NCAA Division I lacrosse championships, defeating previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Johns Hopkins, 16-8, in the semifinals yesterday before a record crowd of 30,327 at Byrd Stadium.
Maryland (12-3) will play No. 3 Syracuse (12-2), a 20-13 winner over No. 2 Virginia (12-3) yesterday, for the championship tomorrow at 11 a.m.
"Hopkins is a very arrogant team. Maybe that's why they're so great because they think they're so great," said Radebaugh, a defenseman from Loyola High. "It's great to shut down what everyone thought was the ultimate scoring machine."
Maryland was thorough in taking apart Hopkins, and the Terps did what some experts considered impossible. They held the Blue Jays' starting attack to two goals and two assists. They won 14 of 28 faceoffs and stopped the Blue Jays from going on one of their long, vintage scoring spurts.
But, most importantly, Maryland won because Brian Dougherty showed why he has earned the reputation as the game's best goalie. Dougherty faced 59 shots and stopped 23.
He was unbelieveable, especially in the first quarter when a torrid Hopkins attack took 19 shots, several on three man-up situations, and Dougherty had 12 saves. And these were from Hopkins' big guns. Terry Riordan had two shots from point-blank range. Ditto for Brian Piccola and midfielder Casey Gordon.
Yet, it was Maryland that walked away with a 4-1 first-quarter lead, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
"I can't tell you how much this hurts," said Seaman, whose team had scored 222 goals this season. "This game was won in the first quarter when we had so many opportunities, but Dougherty was unreal. And these shots were from right on top of the crease, chippies. Anybody else, we're up 6-1, or 7-1.
"So what do you do? Do you call a timeout and and tell Piccola and Riordan to shoot better?" said Seaman. "They're in our history books. They have been the guys who have been putting them in the bank for us all year."
Riordan, the Blue Jays' all-time top goal-scorer, said: "I've waited all my career for this, and then I play so poorly. I've got to live with this the rest of my life. I've got to deal with it."
Actually, Riordan and the Blue Jays' offense didn't play badly. They came out physically and mentally ready to play. They just ran into Dougherty.
They also came up against a tough man-down unit from Maryland that held Hopkins to one goal in eight extra-man opportunities, and bullied the Hopkins attack. Final count: Riordan, two goals, one assist; Piccola, no goals, one assist; Dave Marr, no goals, no assists.
Hopkins previously had converted on 30 of 74 extra-man situations.
"We worked real hard on that," said Radebaugh. "We kept rotating our five guys, giving them a different look every time because they like to do a lot of free-lancing. But we gave them nowhere to go."
The Terps also controlled Blue Jays faceoff specialist Peter Jacobs with Jon Brothers, who won 12 of 14. Those possessions left the suspect Hopkins defense and goalie vulnerable.
Maryland had noticed Hopkins goalie Jonathan Marcus crouched too much because he feared low shots, leaving himself open to high ones.
"We shot from the ankles up," said Rob Chomo, a Maryland attackman. "It seemed to work out in the first quarter, and we stayed there."
"I was just lousy," said Marcus.
Hopkins never got within three goals after an unassisted goal by defenseman Kevin Kaiser with 6:54 left in the second period. Chomo scored two goals in the next three minutes, and attackman Peter Hilgartner scored with 2:20 left to put Maryland ahead 10-4 at the half.
Maryland attackman Matt Hahn and midfielders Chris Farmer, Mike Bordi and Kip Fulks scored three straight goals midway through the third period to push the Maryland lead to 14-5 with 4:38 left in the quarter.
The fourth period was nothing more than a formality, as Maryland ended another Hopkins opportunity to win its first title since 1987. This team was personally handcrafted by Seaman, the Blue Jays' fifth-year coach.
"No, I never thought they could beat us like this," said Seaman.
The Terps did, or at least talked like it yesterday. Maryland coach Dick Edell might have added to the intense rivalry by calling a timeout with 1:19 left in the game, which seemed to irritate Seaman.