- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2005

PHILADELPHIA — Maryland twice slowed down Duke’s offensive juggernaut in the regular season, lending hope the Terrapins could contain the explosive Blue Devils in the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament semifinals.

However, the Terps weren’t nearly as fortunate yesterday at Lincoln Financial Field, absorbing an 18-9 rout in the rubber game between the conference foes. The third-seeded Terrapins (11-6) surrendered nine consecutive goals as they suffered a semifinal shellacking for the second time in three years.

The loss snapped Maryland’s six-game winning streak and prevented the Terps from reaching the final for the first time since 1998.

“I thought we could win an 11- or 12-goal game, but this wasn’t the way I thought we could win it,” said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, whose team lost to the Blue Devils 10-8 in early March but rebounded to collect a 9-5 victory in the ACC tournament final this month.

Senior goalie Aaron Fenton made 15 saves for the second-seeded Blue Devils (17-2), who reached the title game for the first time and will meet Johns Hopkins (15-0) tomorrow for the championship.

Duke advanced largely because of a strong edge in faceoffs and its ability to thrive in transition. The Blue Devils rarely had the ball in the ACC final, but freshman Brad Ross won 13 of 20 draws to prevent the Terps from dominating possession yesterday.

“We just didn’t seem like we got into a rhythm at all,” Maryland senior midfielder Andrew Schwartzman said. “When you only have the ball sporadically, you can’t get into a rhythm offensively. It’s a lot harder to manufacture goals.”

Duke also established the fast pace it prefers and prevented Maryland from enjoying a settled game. Long pole Nick O’Hara had two goals and an assist to give a boost to the Blue Devils’ already potent offense.

“Our transition really helps our offense in 6-on-6,” Duke attackman Matt Danowski said. “When we get going in transition a little bit, everybody gets a little bit more comfortable and we play much better as a team.”

Duke’s Zack Greer had four goals to give him 57 for the season, breaking former Virginia star Doug Knight’s ACC mark of 56 in 1996. Matt Zash and Dan Flannery each had three goals for the Blue Devils.

Maryland reached the final four for the first time under Cottle in 2003 but was drilled 14-4 by Virginia, and this trip was equally ugly. Bill McGlone scored a minute in to give the Terps a fleeting lead, but the Blue Devils ripped off eight goals in a 20-minute span to take control. Meanwhile, the Terps went scoreless for 26:56 as Duke pulled away.

Despite the lopsided score, Maryland wasn’t overwhelmed in most facets. Other than Fenton’s play and Duke’s 18-13 faceoff edge — aided by an injury to Maryland’s David Tamberrino — the Blue Devils didn’t hold a significant edge anywhere but on the scoreboard.

“Good offense alleviates transition,” Cottle said. “We took some shots and Fenton made some saves and the ball went the other way.”

The Terps closed within 12-7 late in the third quarter after Joe Walters scored three times in less than five minutes, but Duke went on a 6-1 run to prevent Maryland from making it tight in the final period.

The Blue Devils got the better of Maryland goalie Harry Alford, who made 15 saves against them in the ACC final. Duke peppered Alford with low shots early on and eventually had success as the Terps surrendered 18 goals for the first time since a 20-11 loss to Johns Hopkins in 2000.

“I could see the ball fine today,” said Alford, who made eight saves. “The majority of the time it was in the back of the net. I feel like they got past us defensively. Our screen didn’t work, and they got a lot of shots in open areas. They got the best of us.”

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