Top-ranked Maryland led by seven goals at intermission before having to withstand a furious comeback by visiting Villanova and escaping with a 12-10 win Friday night at Byrd Stadium.
An announced 2,045 watched the Terps, who improved to 6-0 for the third time in five years, roll up a 9-2 advantage in the first two quarters of what appeared to have the makings of an easy night.
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But the Wildcats outscored Maryland 8-3 in the second half in a rally reminiscent of their last game. On Saturday, the Terps sprinted to an 8-2 lead before holding on for an 11-8 victory over Stony Brook.
Coach John Tillman did not sound too worried about his team's end-of-game struggles in a second straight narrow win, but conceded that the issue is worth exploring before Tuesday's visit to future Big Ten Conference opponent Michigan.
"We'll always break down the game and look at it and see where we can improve and get better," he said. "Certainly, it's better to be ahead and try to maintain that lead rather than trying to come back, but we've got some teachable moments and certainly some things we need to do better. But that's part of early-season lacrosse, and hopefully we can learn from that, and if we're in that same situation later, I know our guys will make good decisions."
Sophomore midfielder Jack Curran's goal off a pass from sophomore attackman Tim Mulrenan with 5:02 left in the fourth quarter capped a 4-0 Villanova and brought the team within two goals of forcing overtime.
But Maryland went to a zone defense, and the strategy worked. Two Wildcats possessions ended in turnovers, Villanova came up empty on a six-on-four extra-man opportunity with 1:13 left in regulation, and the Terps ran out the clock to cement the win.
The closer-than-expected finish overshadowed a dominant first-half performance by Maryland, which got a goal from junior faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa just seven seconds into the first quarter and led 7-0 entering the second.
The seven goals are the Terps' most in the first quarter this season, and trail only the 10 the team scored in the second quarter of a 16-8 rout of then-No. 2 Syracuse on Feb. 22.
Seven different Maryland players scored a goal Friday, and four others recorded an assist. Senior midfielder Mike Chanenchuk paced the offense with four points on three goals and one assist. Freshmen midfielder Connor Cannizzaro scored three goals, and freshman attackman Matt Rambo scored twice.
But Chanenchuk acknowledged that the team has to be more consistent and maintain its level of play from one quarter to the next.
"We came out to a great start and then, just playing with a lead, that's something you have to learn," he said. "That's something I'm sure we'll go over in practice and try to clean some stuff up. That's just a different game with those younger guys. That's something we're going to work on and hopefully get better at."
Senior attackman Kevin O'Neil (Boys' Latin) led Villanova (1-4) with his second hat trick of the season and an assist, and Curran chipped in three points on two goals and one assist.
The Wildcats, who had lost their previous three games by a combined four goals, now have dropped three straight. They haven't won since Feb. 25, when they edged then-No. 14 Drexel, 11-10, in overtime.
"At the end of the day, it's a loss. So it's disappointing," coach Michael Corrado said. "We didn't play well enough to beat an outstanding team. They're No. 1 right now. … They're one of the top programs in the country on their home field. We came out and they took it to us in that first quarter. We were swimming upstream the whole game."