- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — When defenseman Ray Megill walked to midfield to take the faceoff to start overtime in Maryland’s latest tight game against Navy, he couldn’t help but admire the crucible he found himself in.

“I looked at the ref and said, ‘This is insane. This is the best game ever,’ ” Megill said. “He’s looking at me and dancing with the music, and I said, ‘I guess you like it, too.’ ”

Just a little while later, it got a lot better for Megill and the Terrapins.

Sophomore Dan Groot scored with 3:18 left in the second overtime, lifting the No. 10 Terps past the No. 7 Midshipmen 8-7 before 14,625 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Maryland (8-3) snapped a three-game losing streak against Navy and did so in appropriate fashion for a rivalry whose last nine games have been decided by a combined 12 goals. Yet this was the first of that bunch to go to overtime and a memorable one at that.

Groot finished off things for the Terps with a charge past long pole Victor Barger on the left wing before firing a 6-yard bullet past goalie Colin Finnegan (seven saves).

“It’s probably the best goal I’ve scored in my life,” Groot said.

But it might not have been the best goal the Terps scored in the closing minutes.

That honor goes to junior Drew Evans, whose point-blank attempt to tie with about two minutes left hit Finnegan between the numbers. His shot in the closing seconds had a much higher degree of difficulty. Evans twisted past short stick Terence Higgins, then zipped it in to force overtime.

“There’s no way you defend something like that,” Navy coach Richie Meade said. “There’s eight seconds left, it’s kind of a desperation shot, he turns and puts the ball low to high in the opposite corner from about [17] yards. You get a goal for that.”

Navy (8-2), which lost its second straight, had a chance to win it in overtime when freshman Basil Daratsos had an open look from 12 yards out. But Maryland freshman Brian Phipps (13 saves) made a slick stop of the low attempt, and the Mids never took another shot.

The Terps displayed an adaptability that could serve them well for the rest of the season. Megill, who had never faced off in a college game, scooped up his first attempt in the fourth quarter and delivered a goal. Long pole Ryan Clarke shifted to close defense to contain the Mids’ potent attack. And primary faceoff man Will Dalton missed most of the game with a back injury suffered in practice.

Navy wasn’t so fortunate. The Mids dominated shots (15-5) and faceoffs (6-1) in the first half, yet only went into the break up 3-2 after going 0-for-4 on extra man.

“I felt like we had really outplayed them, and the score didn’t indicate that. …,” Meade said. “I felt we should have been up by more than one goal. It’s tough to feel like you played really hard. It would have been tough for Maryland to lose the game. It’s one of those games where whatever team loses is going to feel very badly about it.”

Freshman Tim Paul, starting on attack in place of the injured Bruce Nechanicky, scored twice as Navy built a 6-4 lead in the second half. Yet Megill’s goal off the faceoff was a catalyst that re-energized the Terps, who earned their first victory over a current top-10 team and improved their postseason hopes.

“We’re very happy with the win because our young team is growing up a little bit,” coach Dave Cottle said. “It helps us move on to the NCAA tournament.”

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