- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2006

BALTIMORE — Brendan Healy’s season-long shooting slump ended just in time to keep Maryland in the ACC tournament.

Healy scored three goals in the third quarter and Xander Ritz scored the game-winner with 1:25 left as the No. 3 Terrapins escaped an early hole and rallied past North Carolina 10-9 in last night’s semifinal before an announced crowd of 3,806 at M&T; Bank Stadium.

Junior Harry Alford made 14 saves for Maryland (9-3), which will play for its third straight ACC title when it meets top-ranked Virginia (12-0) in tomorrow’s final.

“You’d like to say something happened, this remarkable thing in the locker room, but what happened is our seniors stepped up,” said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, whose team trailed 6-1 at halftime. “What turned us around was our players. We didn’t make that many adjustments that made a difference. Our kids just played a lot better in the second half.”

The Terps’ rally was capped in the final minutes after they came out of a timeout. Healy started with the ball and sent it to attackman Joe Walters, who quickly encountered two Carolina defensemen.

The senior deftly slipped it to Michael Phipps (three assists) to the right of the crease, who in turn zipped the ball to Ritz. The senior midfielder accepted the pass and deposited the shot in one motion to give the Terps their first lead.

Maryland might not have had a chance if Healy had not pieced together a natural hat trick in the third quarter. It was a remarkable display for a player who has endured a forgettable shooting malaise this spring. Healy entered the second half shooting 7-for-57 for the season, including a 0-for-27 slump that lasted for more than a month.

“I needed it pretty bad,” Healy said. “This has been a very frustrating season for me. I’ve been getting looks and I think I’ve been improving every week. I knew it was going to come and the supporting cast was always there. It definitely felt good to get that off my shoulder.”

The Terps twice tied it, but Carolina added two goals early in the fourth quarter to re-assume control. However, Ritz and Bill McGlone — both seniors — scored to even it with 4:33 remaining.

It was just the latest odd game for the schizophrenic Terps, who have impressive road victories over Georgetown, Duke and Johns Hopkins but have also suffered an inexplicable midweek loss to Bucknell last month. The Terps displayed both personalities against Carolina, bumbling about in the first half before emerging from the locker room with renewed vigor.

“We’ve learned from our losses when we were down in the first quarter and at halftime, when we were down by four or five goals, that we can’t lose our cool,” Walters said. “We have to just come out and play hard.”

Carolina (4-10) established a program record for losses as it ended its second straight losing season. The Maryland comeback denied North Carolina its first ACC tournament victory since 1996, an almost incomprehensible decade-long run of semifinal futility in what is usually a four-team tournament but was cut to three when Duke canceled its season earlier this month.

The Tar Heels endured a nine-game skid earlier this season, the program’s longest since it was revived in 1964, and were assured a losing season by April 1. Even that couldn’t stem the finality the loss to a final four contender brought to Carolina’s season.

“We’ve been in this situation I can’t tell you how many times this year against top-10 teams,” said Carolina coach John Haus, whose team lost by three goals or less for the sixth time. “We’re just unable to come out in the second half and sustain.”

No. 6 Navy 9, Lehigh 2

HAMILTON, N.Y. — Ian Dingman had three goals and an assist and Jon Birsner added a goal and three assists as the Midshipmen (10-3) routed the Mountain Hawks (8-7) in the Patriot League semifinals. Matt Russell made six saves for Navy, which will meet Army (8-5) in tomorrow’s title game.

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