PHILADELPHIA -- As the final seconds ticked down in yet another Memorial Day weekend failure by the University of Maryland men's lacrosse team, Terrapins junior goalie Harry Alford crouched down 20 yards in front of the net he had guarded well and dropped his head in disappointment.
Alford and the rest of the Maryland defense had done its job for much of the day against scrappy, determined Massachusetts. But at the other end of the field, the Terps' offense, a senior-led group that had done so much to get Maryland in the national championship hunt, had come up empty.
The Minutemen made all of the plays that counted at Lincoln Financial Field. Senior attackman Sean Morris scored three goals and added one assist, freshman goalie Doc Schneider made 15 saves, and UMass took control in the middle of yesterday's national semifinal, then knocked off second-seeded Maryland, 8-5, before 49,562, the largest crowd ever to witness an NCAA lacrosse game.
UMass, playing in its first final four, became the first unseeded team to reach the NCAA title game since Maryland in 1997. The Minutemen (13-4) will face top-seeded, undefeated Virginia at 1 p.m. tomorrow for the national championship.
Maryland (12-5) was left to swallow another flop on the big stage, starting with senior attackman Joe Walters, the school's all-time scoring leader. He finished without a point for only the third time in his career.
The Terps, searching for their first title since 1975, fell in the NCAA semifinals for the 10th time, and it was the third time in the past four years the Terps have failed to win a game after advancing to the final four.
"I never thought my career would end like this. As a team today, we got outmatched," said Walters, who shot 0-for-9 and committed four of Maryland's 16 turnovers. "I wish I had the answers. Being one of the leaders on offense, I take full responsibility for how we played."
Walters had company. After senior attackman Xander Ritz opened the game's scoring with 9:12 left in the first quarter, Ritz, Walters and senior midfielders Brendan Healy and Bill McGlone -- the team's top four scorers -- shot blanks. Healy and McGlone shot a combined 0-for-15.
Sophomore attackman Max Ritz led Maryland with one goal and one assist.
Cottle pointed primarily to Maryland's abysmal 5-for-43 shooting. But the Terps were a stagnant, jittery bunch that lacked good ball movement within its sets, seemed confused by the Minutemen's constant defensive switches, wasted possessions with unforced turnovers and often settled for low-quality shots.
"You're not going to win scoring five goals in a semifinal game," Cottle said. "I just didn't think we put enough good shots on goal. We felt like the ball was dying in our sticks. We would have taken [the result of] holding UMass to eight. We just never made a play on the offensive end of the field when it mattered."
UMass looked to first-team All-American Jack Reid, the senior defenseman who set the tone by refusing to let Walters get into a comfortable shooting rhythm early. From there, things snowballed for Maryland, which went scoreless for 32:34, spanning the second and third quarters.
"We played a lot of defense, especially in the second and fourth quarters," UMass coach Greg Cannella said. "We did a great job on some talented players."
UMass methodically built a 6-2 advantage at the end of the third quarter. Morris scored twice over that time by beating junior defenseman Steve Whittenberg. Also, senior long-stick midfielder Jake Deane, who was neutralized in the faceoff game by Maryland senior David Tamberrino, still hurt the Terps.
Deane completed a two-goal, five-second spurt by UMass, first by winning a faceoff, then by following his own shot to make it 6-2 with 2:33 left in the third. Then, after the Terps finally turned it on with goals by junior attackman Michael Phipps and Max Ritz over a span of 1:07 to cut the lead to 6-4 with 12:48 left, Deane struck again.
He chased down a loose ball near midfield, and turned it into a successful fast break by dumping a pass on the left wing to attackman Clay Stabert, who passed to freshman attackman Jim Connolly (two goals) on the crease. Connolly converted to make it 7-4 with 11:52 left.
Morris countered a goal by Maryland freshman midfielder Dan Groot by splitting two defenders, then scoring the game's final goal with 6:33 left.
"I felt very bad for our seniors," said Alford, who finished with 10 saves. "They got us to this point. They worked their butts off for four years. This is an awful note to go off on. They put their heart and soul into this team." firstname.lastname@example.org
UMass 2 1 3 2 -- 8
Maryland 2 0 0 3 -- 5
Goals: UMass--Morris 3, Connolly 2, Deane, Pedrick, Jacovina; Md.--M. Ritz, Phipps, Clarke, X. Ritz, Groot. Assists: UMass--Morris, Stabert; Md.--Lang, M. Ritz. Saves: UMass--Scheider 15; Md.--Alford 10.
Division I men
At Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Massachusetts 8, Maryland 5 Virginia 17, Syracuse 10
At Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Massachusetts (13-4) vs. Virginia (16-0), 1 p.m.
Division II men
At Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia LeMoyne (17-0) vs. Dowling (12-1), 5:30 p.m.
Division III men
At Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Salisbury (20-0) vs. SUNY Cortland (17-3), 2:30 p.m.
Division I women
At Boston U. Northwestern 11, Duke 10, 2OT Dartmouth 14, Notre Dame 8
At Nickerson Field, Boston Northwestern (19-1) vs. Dartmouth (14-5), noon