M. Ritz's OT goal for Terps leaves Virginia in cold, 8-7

Maryland was down 7-5

Duke next in ACC final

April 30, 2005|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

After struggling for nearly three weeks, the ninth-ranked Maryland Terrapins are recovering, and just in time for a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Last night in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, third-seeded Maryland looked nothing like the team that got embarrassed four weeks ago at Virginia and recently went through a 1-4 slide.

This group of Terps shut down second-seeded, No. 3 Virginia in the fourth quarter, forced overtime with two late goals, then won it, 8-7, because of the instincts and hustle of a freshman.

With 1:20 left in overtime, attackman Maxwell Ritz leaped to grab a carom off Virginia goalie Kip Turner, who had just saved a shot by Maryland junior midfielder Bill McGlone. While still in the air 4 yards in front of the goal, Ritz pushed home the goal that lifted the Terps to a come-from-behind victory before an announced crowd of 5,000 at M&T Bank Stadium.

The victory, Maryland's second straight, sent the Terps (7-5) into tomorrow's tournament title game against top-seeded, No. 2 Duke (14-1) and sealed Maryland's at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils got four goals from freshman attackman Zack Greer and eliminated North Carolina, 13-11, in last night's other semifinal.

"It was really just luck, to be honest with you. I didn't even know it went in. I just kind of threw my stick at it," said Ritz, who finished with a career-high two goals.

The Terps, who dropped a 10-2 decision to Virginia in Charlottesville on April 2, outplayed the Cavaliers (9-3) for most of the night. They outshot Virginia 23-15 in the first half, did not fail in 22 clearing attempts, committed just 14 turnovers to Virginia's 22 and got 12 saves from sophomore goalie Harry Alford, including two in overtime.

Maryland, which also got two goals apiece from junior midfielder Brendan Healy and senior attackman Andrew Schwartzman, also won despite not getting a goal for the first time in 27 games from junior attackman Joe Walters. He came up empty for only the second time in his career, thanks to excellent work by Virginia junior defenseman Michael Culver.

The Terps also benefited from some strange luck as Virginia junior midfielder J.J. Morrissey's goal 19 seconds into overtime was waved off. Virginia coach Dom Starsia had called time, sensing the Cavaliers were about to commit a turnover as they struggled to get into their offense.

"Our kids have a lot of pride. We feel like we've been playing some winning lacrosse, and we haven't been getting rewarded for it," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. "This isn't about relief; it's about winning the ACC championship. We're the defending ACC champs. We didn't come here to win one game. We came here to win two."

Maryland overcame its share of obstacles before scoring the game's final three goals. The Cavaliers took a 7-5 lead with 11:23 left on a bizarre goal. Junior midfielder Kyle Dixon scored his second goal of the night after teammate Matt Poskay ducked under his pass at the top of the crease. The ball slipped past Alford.

Then, with just over 10 minutes left, junior attackman Xander Ritz - Maxwell's brother - picked off a pass near midfield, raced in for a one-on-one confrontation with Turner - and missed the shot.

But Maryland persevered, while Virginia blew two fourth-quarter clears and turned the ball over seven times in the fourth period. Schwartzman scored an extra-man goal with 5:33 left to pull the Terps to within 7-6. McGlone then made his only goal count in a huge way as he tied the score at 7 with 2:20 left in regulation.

In the earlier game, Duke sprinted to a 10-3 lead late in the third quarter, then absorbed a five-goal run by Carolina (5-8) in a span of 2:50 as the Tar Heels cut the lead to 10-8 with 13:21 left.

But Duke junior attackman Dan Flannery stopped the run with a goal, and after Carolina cut the lead to 11-9, Greer scored back-to-back goals to put Duke ahead 13-9 with 4:14 left.

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