CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - It looked like it was about to happen again.
Duke had eliminated Maryland from the last three men's Atlantic Coast Conference lacrosse tournaments and came from behind to take a 6-5 lead in the third quarter last night behind four goals from freshman Matt Danowski and a tough zone defense.
The Terrapins, however, showed the depth, experience and skill that has earned them a No. 3 ranking by outscoring the No. 18 Blue Devils 5-1 the rest of the way for a 10-7 victory in front of 2,562 fans at Fetzer Field.
"We haven't had a whole lot of success with them in the tournament, so we battled some demons tonight," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said.
Maryland (9-2) ended Duke's upset bid with three fourth-quarter goals. Justin Smith put the Terrapins ahead for good by grabbing his only ground ball of the night and stuffing it past Duke goalie Aaron Fenton with 9:10 remaining in the game. Maryland tacked on two more goals and didn't allow Duke a second goal after the Blue Devils tied the game at 7 with 12:15 remaining.
Freshman Mike Brown showed off some of that Maryland depth, coming off the bench to record his first career hat trick in a frenetic third quarter that included three goals for each team and a pair of lead changes.
"It feels great," he said. "I couldn't ask for anything more."
Brown put Maryland ahead 7-6 as the third quarter expired by standing firm in the middle of three defenders, grabbing a pass from sophomore Xander Ritz and burying a shot. He and sophomore Joe Walters each scored three goals for Maryland, and senior J.R. Bordley also tied for the team high with three points on a goal and two assists - all in the first quarter.
Maryland didn't appear as if its past losses would haunt it early on, scoring three goals on its first four shots for a 3-1 lead at 9:44 in the first quarter.
Duke coach Mike Pressler responded by ordering his team of predominantly freshmen and sophomores into a zone. The Blue Devils (4-7) kept six players closely spaced in front of the goal, rather than having its "man" defense spread out and risk getting picked apart by Maryland's deft passing attack.
The strategy held Maryland to just one goal over the final 23 minutes of the first half.
The Terps were forced to score off turnovers and runs rather than simply executing their offense, which is ranked first in the ACC in goals. Brown used his 6-foot-4 height to advantage. He set up in the middle of Duke's zone, caught some tough entry passes and got off five shots, all of them on goal.
"We're an unselfish team," Cottle said. "When a guy is open, we get it to him. Michael got stuffed a few times early, but came back late."
Maryland also improved defensively in the late stages. Duke was able to get Danowski some open looks away from Chris Passavia, Maryland's top defender. But Danowski, who had a game-high six points, couldn't score in the fourth quarter.
The Terps will play for the title tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., meeting No. 14 Virginia, an 11-9 winner over No. 6 North Carolina in last night's second game.
Maryland defeated Virginia, 11-3, on April 3 as Xander Ritz scored three goals and added three assists.
Duke 2 1 3 1 - 7
Maryland 4 0 3 3 - 10
Goals: D-Danowski 4, Flannery, Skandalaris, Zash; M-Brown 3, Walters 3, Bordley, Healy, McGlone, Smith. Assists: D-Danowski 2, Haunss 2, Flannery, Zash; M-Bordley 2, Ritz 2, Clarke, Matz, Schwartzman. Saves: D-Fenton 12; M-McGinnis 10 .