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Title dreams die hard for upstart Terps

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 30, 2011

BALTIMORE — The wait will continue for the Maryland lacrosse program.

The Terrapins' national title drought was extended Monday with a 9-7 loss to Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium in the NCAA title game, a bitter end to a surprising run for an unseeded team.

"It just hurts that much more because this team has put in such an emotional investment," midfielder Dan Burns said. "It makes wins feel that much better and makes losses hurt that much more. "

Grant Catalino had two goals and an assist and John Haus had a goal and two assists for the Terps (13-5), who saw their first season under coach John Tillman finish without ending the program's wait for its first national title since 1975.

Maryland also found itself on the receiving end of the same tactics that earned it a spot in the title game for the first time since 1998.

The Terps dominated possession in a quarterfinal defeat of Syracuse, and again in the semifinals against Duke. Things unfolded in much the same way in the first half against the Cavaliers (13-5), with the informal time of possession nearly 2-to-1 in favor the Terps.

Yet the scoreboard wasn't so kind. Virginia rattled off five goals in the second quarter to take a 5-3 lead while Maryland struggled to find clear and close looks against the Cavaliers' zone.

"At halftime, I knew we had a bunch of great looks and we didn't finish," Tillman said. "We hit some pipes. [Virginia goalie] Adam [Ghitelman] made some great saves. I thought, 'Man, it should be even now.' We just didn't can a couple shots."

It was the Cavaliers who played keep-away from Maryland in the end game, taking a 6-4 lead into the fourth quarter and unabashedly burning the clock in the final period.

 "Regardless of their possession time, we knew we had to be patient offensively," Catalino said. "You can't beat a zone with one pass or one dodge. It takes multiple passes. ... Them having the ball didn't change much. Toward the end of the game, when we were down a few, we had to press the situation more than in the beginning. It's hard to come back against a zone."

It placed undue pressure on a Maryland defense that contained Virginia's stars in impressive fashion for much of the day but yielded career highs to Colin Briggs (five goals) and Nick O'Reilly (five points) and permitted Matt White to match his season-best in goals (three).

Attackman Steele Stanwick, who entered the title game with 20 points in three tournament games, was held to just an assist as Brett Schmidt marked him throughout the afternoon. Ryder Bohlander neutralized attackman Chris Bocklet, preventing the junior from registering a point for the first time in 36 career games.

Schmidt and Bohlander were two of Maryland's 17 seniors, nine of whom played in the title game. The Terps' experience long ago pointed to 2011 as a breakthrough season.

Yet the drought will continue — much to the chagrin of a tight-knit team that seemed poised to finally put a piece of miserable program history to rest on a steamy Memorial Day afternoon.

"I'm proud of everyone on this team," Burns said. "We've been saying Maryland is just a starting place. These are going to be the guys who will be in my wedding. These are going to be my best friends, the godfathers of my kids. I love all of them. We won an ACC championship and runner-up in the title game. We're still not satisfied, which says a lot about the guys in this locker room. We wanted more."

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