Dingman, Navy pull it out against Terps

Navy 7 Maryland 6

April 09, 2006|By MIKE PRESTON | MIKE PRESTON,SUN REPORTER

COLLEGE PARK -- There were 54 seconds left in a tied game when Navy got the ball at the offensive end of the field, and there was no question who was going to be the feeder and who was going to take the last shot.

Despite a tough Maryland defense that shut down Navy's original play, the Midshipmen's two top offensive stars - Jon Birsner and Ian Dingman - connected and Dingman scored with eight seconds left to lift No. 8 Navy past the No. 4 Terps, 7-6, last night at Byrd Stadium.

The late-game heroics spoiled a big comeback by Maryland, which trailed 5-1 at the end of the half. The Terps (6-3) tied the game at 6 on a goal by Joe Walters with 3:22 left. Maryland won the ensuing faceoff, but after calling time with 2:11 remaining, the Terps failed to get off a shot and turned the ball over.

Navy had no such problems.

The Mids got the ball behind the goal to senior attackman Birsner, possibly the top passer in the college game. Birsner fed Dingman, a junior, to the left of the goal and Dingman beat defender Ray Megill and then trickled a shot through the legs of goalie Jason Carter.

The goal touched off a celebration by the nervous Mids, who had all of the momentum in the first half and nearly none of it in the second.

"We have playmakers, and they came up big in a big game," Birsner said. "We put the play in this week because we have great inside guys. Maryland was very aggressive and they played it well, but we adjusted, improvised and scored."

Dingman, who is right-handed, caught the ball to his right, but shot with his left arm. There wasn't a lot of velocity on the shot, but it was placed well enough to score.

"It certainly looked a lot better than it felt," said Dingman, who finished with three goals. "You don't always have to have a lot of speed on the shots; you just have to place it well. That's something we worked on this week because we haven't been shooting well."

Navy (8-2) also got a big-time effort from goalie Matt Russell, who finished with nine saves. Russell had two big saves in the last nine minutes of the game, stopping a shot from Walters with 8:57 left and another from Maryland senior attackman Xander Ritz exactly two minutes later.

"For us to have an opportunity to win this against a caliber opponent like Maryland, Matt has to play that way," Navy coach Richie Meade said. "I think he's playing very well and seeing the ball. This is a big venue and this was a big game. Over the years, he's played well in big games."

Maryland, which was beaten badly by Virginia last week, salvaged some respect with its rally.

The Terps were actually lucky to be trailing by only four after two quarters. Maryland had five penalties in the second period alone. When they weren't hacking, the Terps were all but motionless on offense.

Midway through the second quarter, Maryland had seven players at the defensive end of the field and still couldn't take the ball away from Navy. And the Mids almost scored. Navy only outshot Maryland 20-16 in the first half, but five of the Terps' shots came in the last five minutes of the half.

Just how bad was Maryland? Terps coach Dave Cottle pulled goalie Harry Alford halfway through the first period after he raked a loose ball inside the crease out of bounds.

Maryland was behind only 1-0. Maybe there is something to the suggestion Alford isn't a nighttime goalie. He was 1-3 in games played under the lights last year. The Mids got the lead when junior midfielder Billy Looney scored on a runner just inside the restraining line in the first minute of the game.

The beginning looked just like the start of Maryland's previous game, when Virginia scored two goals in the first two minutes and then went on to a 15-5 victory.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

Navy 2 3 1 1 - 7

Maryland 1 0 3 2 - 6

Goals: N- Dingman 3, Birsner, Wallin, B. Looney, Higgins; M- Walters 2, McGlone, M. Ritz, X. Ritz, Groot. Assists: N- Birsner 3, Mirabito; M- Clarke, Healy, McGlone, M. Ritz, Walters. Saves: N- Russell 9; M- Alford 3, Carter 7. A: 3,512.

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