Princeton finishes off stunned Terps

With final 4 in grasp, No. 3 loses lead with :12 left, falls to Tigers in OT, 9-8

College Lacrosse

May 23, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- At first, there was shock. Then, disappointment. Agony came next, accompanied by tears, but the emotion that will live on for Maryland after yesterday's 9-8 overtime loss to Princeton in the NCAA quarterfinals will almost certainly be regret.

The Terps, the tournament's No. 3 seed, pushed the Tigers to the brink at Scott Stadium. They picked apart Princeton's vaunted zone defense in the second half, won crucial faceoffs and scored clutch goals. With 2:16 remaining, Maryland had an 8-6 lead, a red-hot goaltender and an excellent chance at grabbing its second straight final four berth.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Sunday's editions incorrectly reported that Princeton has never lost in the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament to anyone but Syracuse. Princeton was defeated in the tournament by Yale in 1990 and Towson State in 1991.

But in the game's most crucial moments, Princeton senior attackman Ryan Boyle, a former high school star at Gilman, would not let his team fold. Boyle scored twice in the last two minutes, including a goal with 12 seconds left to force overtime, and then assisted on Peter Trombino's game-winner on the Tigers' first possession in the extra period.

Maryland had chances to snuff out Princeton's frantic rally -- including possession and a one-goal lead with 31 seconds left -- but in the end, the Terps could not close the deal.

"This is a brutal loss," said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, whose players were in tears at the post-game news conference. "I'm very disappointed in this loss. But the memories of this loss will not outweigh what I thought about this team and the effort that they gave."

Princeton, however, delivered a sting that will not be easy to get over. The sixth-seeded Tigers are 23-0 in NCAA play against teams other than Syracuse, and 19-3 in tournament games decided by two goals or fewer.

"We dug down deep," said Princeton coach Bill Tierney. "We were very fortunate to beat a great Maryland team and to hang in there is an amazing thing. Anybody who doesn't know the size of Ryan Boyle's heart hasn't been around this guy for four years."

Normally the setup man, Boyle put Princeton's hopes solely on his stick in the final minutes, muscling around Maryland defenseman Chris Passavia, an All-American in 2003, for both of his scores.

"Chris was really doing a great job of pushing out on me when I was trying to get under him all game," Boyle said. "When you have that little time left, you've got to go all or nothing. Luckily it was all."

The game turned so dramatically, when it was over, Tierney couldn't help but feel a little bit of Maryland's and Cottle's anguish. The coaches have been best friends for years, and Tierney is the godfather of Cottle's daughter. The first words out of the Princeton coach's mouth after the game reflected that.

"I told him I'm sorry," Tierney said. "This thing goes deeper than coaching lacrosse. In our world, you're going to face friends. ... We talked this morning, and both of us said, `We're going to coach to win, we're going to try to win, but at the end of it, we're going to do our best to wish the winner luck and console the loser.' "

Had things gone Maryland's way in the final minutes, it's likely that Cottle would have been consoling Tierney, not the other way around. Terps goalie Tim McGinnis played outstanding for much of the game, making 12 saves, including five in the final quarter, and attackman J.R. Bordley scored twice in the fourth period to give the Terps their 8-6 lead. Maryland had more shots (33 to 27), more ground balls (36 to 31) and fewer turnovers (12 to 19).

But the Terps lost too many faceoffs (12 of 20) and made several bad passes when they could have put Princeton away. ACC Player of the Year Joe Walters had the ball with 31 seconds left, but his shot was stopped.

"When you lose, there's a hundred different reasons," Cottle said. "When you win, you played better than the other team. Give credit to Princeton. They made plays when they had to, when they were down, and we didn't. We came up short."

Princeton 1 3 2 2 1 -- 9

Maryland 2 1 4 1 0 -- 8

Goals: P--Boyle 3, Doneger 2, Hayes 2, Trombino, O'Brien; M--B. Healy 2, Smith 2, Bordley 2, Walters, McGlone. Assists: P--Boyle 2, Casino; M--Gillette, B. Healy, Walters. Saves: P--Law 11; M--McGinnis 12.

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