Catalino's overtime goal pushes Maryland past Syracuse, 6-5, into final four

In toppling No. 1 seed Orange, Terps erase reputation for losing close games

  • Maryland attackman Grant Catalino, right, scores past the defense of Syracuse's Tim Harder to give the Terps a 6-5 overtime win over the top-seeded Orange at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Maryland attackman Grant Catalino, right, scores past the… (Syracuse Post Standard…)
May 22, 2011|By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — For nearly two decades, Maryland had been known as the team that couldn't win close games.

Strange things seemed to happen. The Terps couldn't hit open shots. They dropped passes. A team known for tough defense would become soft, or it appeared to try too hard.

But that changed Sunday, at least for now.

Senior attackman Grant Catalino, who has one of the sweetest shots in the game, scored from 8 yards on an assist from fellow attackman Ryan Young with 32 seconds remaining in the four-minute sudden-death overtime period to lift unseeded Maryland, 6-5, over No. 1 seed Syracuse.

Maryland (12-4) will play fifth seed Duke, a 7-5 winner over No. 4 seed Notre Dame in the other quarterfinal, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the final four at M&T Bank Stadium.

But that's this weekend.

After Maryland stunned a announced crowd of nearly 14,000 at Gillette Stadium and buried Catalino under a mass of humanity on the turf, the Terps wanted to talk about a painful past that included failing to advance to the semifinals last season, costing coach Dave Cottle his job, and a bright future that includes their first final four appearance since 2006.

"This is unbelievable," Catalino said. "There have been so many ups and downs this season, and throughout our careers here. To be able to spend another week with our friends and family is truly unbelievable."

Senior midfielder Scott LaRue (South River) said: "I think this puts an end to the reputation. I think our coaching staff will move forward in getting good recruiting classes and final four appearances will be the expectation every season."

Maryland has traveled a difficult path. The Terps had to open the NCAA tournament at Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina and hit the road again this past weekend.

It appeared the Terps might let Sunday's game slip away after failing to get off a shot with a two-man advantage midway through the third quarter, blowing a two-goal lead in the fourth and watching sophomore attackman Owen Blye force a shot with 2:02 remaining in regulation despite Maryland's holding a one-goal lead.

But Syracuse (15-2) also made its share of mistakes. One was allowing Catalino to get to the spot on the field from where he is deadly. Another was allowing him to get his hands free.

Game over.

"There isn't a lot of thought that went into that shot," said Catalino, who had a goal and an assist. "Ryan Young gave me a perfect pass like he always does, and I shoot it low to high like I always do. That's like my signature shot."

It wasn't a pretty victory, but a gritty, vintage performance by the Terps. They don't have a lot of stars, but they keep grinding. Maryland outshot Syracuse 34-22 and held a 19-12 advantage in ground balls.

More importantly, Maryland's Curtis Holmes (McDonogh) dominated faceoffs, winning 11 of 14. His excellence allowed Maryland to control the pace of the game. In the fourth period alone, Maryland had three possessions of three minutes or longer.

If Syracuse can't run, it usually can't win.

"[Holmes] was so dominating, and there was nothing we could do," Syracuse coach John Desko said. "He has done it all year, and their defense keeps the game low-scoring. There are set plays they run off the faceoffs, and they have scored a lot of goals that way."

With Young as its quarterback, Maryland's offense was patient and poised. The Terps held the ball for nine minutes in the first quarter but trailed 1-0 at the end of the period after a goal by senior midfielder Jeremy Thompson.

But Maryland, thanks to one goal each from junior midfielder Drew Snider and LaRue in the final four minutes of the second quarter, tied the score at 2 at the half.

The Terps outscored Syracuse 3-1 in the third period. Maryland got a lot of momentum when LaRue tapped in Young's pass from the top of the crease with one second remaining in the quarter.

"I have scored only one goal all season and get two today," LaRue said. "That was exciting. I thought we were going to pull it out."

Maryland needed some luck, but the Terps also got strong work from senior defensive midfielder Dan Burns (Severna Park) and freshman goalie Niko Amato, who finished with nine saves.

Regardless, Syracuse, a school that's name is synonymous with lacrosse, played like a champion. Orange senior midfielder Jovan Miller tied the score at 5 with 1:05 left in regulation.

The Orange had a chance to win in overtime, but junior midfielder Kevin Drew took a shot on a fast break without a backup with 1:50 remaining and Maryland got possession, setting the stage for Catalino's game-winner.

"In the previous dead-ball situation, we had covered all that," Desko said, explaining why he didn't call a timeout. "We said, 'Look, this is Syracuse University, and if we have a nice four-on-three break, we're going to take it. You work all day to get a six-on-five; to pass on a four-on-three, we're not going to do that."

Maryland coach John Tillman didn't mind.

"We didn't really focus a lot about what happened in the past," he said. "We were kind of using everything that had happened in the past as motivation, but also as a source of inspiration. And as a positive for that, we've been through so much heartache and disappointment before, and that will help us down the road when things get tough because we're going to want it that much more."

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