- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 17, 2009

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. | Down its starting goalie and saddled with an early deficit, it was clear Maryland would need to generate more offense than usual if it were to advance to lacrosse’s final four.

Not taking many shots didn’t help.

The Terrapins, done in because of clearing miscues and a lethargic offense incapable of exploiting its few second-half opportunities, stumbled to an 11-6 loss to second-seeded Syracuse in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals Saturday at Shuart Stadium.

The loss of junior goalie Brian Phipps to a torn ACL in his left knee near the end of the first quarter didn’t help matters. But the greatest problems Maryland (10-7) faced were at the other end of the field.

“Bottom line is, if you’re going to beat Syracuse, you’re going to have to score more than six goals,” coach Dave Cottle said. “We didn’t. When you’re not scoring, then every defensive mistakes comes back and compounds on you.”

Kenny Nims had two goals and two assists for the Orange (14-2), who will meet the winner of Sunday’s Duke-North Carolina game next Saturday in Foxborough, Mass.

Long known for its offensive prowess, Syracuse was forced to slog its way to its 25th final four in 27 years with a stout defensive effort. The Orange managed it without goalie John Galloway, who sat out with the flu and was replaced with the untested Al Cavalieri.

The junior made 14 saves in his first career start, a capable outing aided by Maryland’s limited opportunities. Yet the Terps trailed only 5-3 at halftime and seemed poised to keep things interesting if they could only close within a goal.

It didn’t happen. The Syracuse riding game forced Maryland into three botched clears in the third quarter, ensuring the Terps would enjoy only a few extended offensive possessions. It created an impossible situation for Maryland, which took only 26 shots - most of them uninspired.

“Syracuse does a very good job in transition, getting the ball back and possessing it on offense,” midfielder Jeff Reynolds said. “It almost felt like we didn’t have that many opportunities to sit down on offense and really create something; 26 shots isn’t much, and we have to something clicking on offense. To be successful, you can’t depend on the defense to hold them 75 percent of the time.”

The Terps couldn’t do that, either, though in fairness few teams slow down the defending national champs. It didn’t help that Phipps, who was starting his third straight game after a season-long time share, hobbled off early. Following a missed shot, the goalie jumped into the air and pumped his fist to protest the lack of a whistle for a crease violation, his knee buckling when he hit the ground. Senior Jason Carter stepped in to make eight saves but yielded nine goals.

His play prevented Syracuse from decimating the Terps in unsettled situations most of the game, though the Orange extended a 6-4 lead to 11-4 in less than five minutes in the middle of the half.

Such a spurt is essentially inevitable against Syracuse, which entered averaging 13 goals. The Terps, despite an offense that appeared at the start of the season to perhaps be the program’s most imposing this decade, could not keep up - in part because of shutdown performances from defenseman Sid Smith and long pole Joel White.

“Their goalie made some tremendous saves,” said sophomore Grant Catalino (two goals). “When we got good looks, the ball went in the cage. They were making it kind of tough for us to get those good looks.

It brought to an end an up-and-down spring for the Terps, a popular final four pick in February that squeaked into the field as an unseeded team.

Maryland stunned unbeaten Notre Dame in the first round, but the sputtering offense relegated the Terps to a school record for losses in a season and a spot at home on Memorial Day weekend for the third consecutive year.

“There’s a lot of different reasons why we didn’t win,” Cottle said. “We’re going to take care of these guys and figure out how to do it better.”

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