Facing early deficit, UM men can't catch Duke in ACC semis

Lacrosse team falls, 7-6, after Devils seize 3-0 lead

April 19, 2003|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Atlantic Coast Conference is winding down its 50th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the Maryland men's lacrosse team came out last night with all the energy of a bunch of senior citizens.

The Terps, No. 5 in The Sun/Channel 2 rankings, fell behind by three goals in the first 12 minutes and never caught No. 14 Duke, which prevailed, 7-6, in the semifinals of the ACC tournament.

Maryland had opened the season with a five-goal win over the desperate Blue Devils, who went 0-3 in conference play and had dropped four of their five previous games.

Duke will go for its third straight ACC title tomorrow (3 p.m.) against No. 2 Virginia, which beat No. 10 North Carolina, 13-12, in the second semifinal at soggy Klockner Stadium. Virginia's Billy Glading scored the game-winner with 1:40 left in overtime.

Maryland, meanwhile, returns to College Park ruing its third tournament loss to the Blue Devils in as many seasons.

"That's been a theme for our defense," junior Chris Passavia said. "When we don't prepare, it shows in the first quarter. We've got the ability to clamp down, but unfortunately for our team, that's not enough. We have to come out at the opening whistle. It can be a disadvantage if we don't."

Maryland coach Dave Cottle was equally disenchanted with his offense, which put up just five goals in last week's overtime loss to top-ranked Johns Hopkins. All-ACC midfielder Mike Mollot failed to produce a point for the second straight game. The Terps were two men up for a minute and couldn't convert. The last possession of the first half typified their tentative play, as they were pulling the ball out while the horn sounded.

Freshman Joe Walters got the Terps (7-3) within a goal for the third time with just 46 seconds left. Kevin Cassese, Duke's all-universe midfielder, controlled the faceoff, but the Blue Devils (8-5) lost possession with 15 seconds remaining. Maryland got the ball to senior midfielder Ryan Moran, who had scored three goals by driving right. A double team forced him left, and Duke goalie A.J. Kincel produced his 12th save.

In a steady rain, goalie Dan McKormick and company continued their habit of slow starts. As passive as their offense, Maryland's long sticks didn't commit a penalty until the 45th minute.

At the other end, Kincel once again was brilliant against Maryland. A fifth-year senior who prepped 15 miles down the road at St. Anne's Belfield, Kincel was the Most Valuable Player in last year's tournament, when he made 21 saves in an 8-7 overtime win over the Terps in the semifinals. Last night he crammed four saves into both the first and fourth quarters.

Maryland put Passavia on Matt Rewkowski, the conference's top scorer. Michael Howley, its other first-team All-ACC defenseman, checked Cassese, who will draw strong consideration for Player of the Year after being recognized last season as the nation's top midfielder. Both Duke stars had three goals, and Cassese had the most telling one of the night.

Cassese countered the Terps' first goal, as he won the faceoff and needed just six seconds to negate a score by Walters and give the Blue Devils a 4-1 lead.

When Maryland beat Duke 13-8 in the opener, the Terps controlled 12 of the 23 faceoffs. Playing with a stress fracture, Cassese helped the Devils control nine of 14 last night.

"With Duke-Maryland, there are no secrets," Cassese said. "It's a matter of which team plays harder."

Before last night, Duke's best win had come over No. 17 Loyola. The Blue Devils were in disarray two weeks ago, when a 19-6 loss at Hopkins was its worst since 1994. Kincel labeled that "a wake-up call," but Duke followed with a setback to Virginia, and figures that the only way to ensure a seventh straight appearance in the NCAA tournament is to win two games here.

"If we want to have any hope of getting in the NCAAs, we had to beat Maryland," Duke coach Mike Pressler said.

"Maryland is already in the NCAA picture. We are not. I told them at our team meal, it's a memorable day no matter the outcome, and we're going to put it together for four quarters. That's the first time we've done that in 12 games, and that's all I care about."

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