The North and South squads entered Saturday afternoon's Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic tied at 4 wins all-time.
Maybe it was only fitting, then, that the ninth edition went to overtime.
The South, which trailed by as many as seven goals at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium, didn't lead for a single second of regulation Saturday, but it got a goal from Sykesville's Mikey Wynne just 49 seconds into the extra frame to seal the 17-16 comeback win.
"We had a ton of confidence," Wynne, a Notre Dame recruit, said afterward. "We had a very strong team. The North is a very strong team as well, but being able to just chip away and have faith in our guys — we all were pretty confident that we could do it."
Wynne, of St. Paul's, was one of nine Maryland representatives in the game. New York, with 12, was the only state that landed more players in the contest.
The University of Maryland, meanwhile, trailed only Duke in terms of college representation; Johns Hopkins was tied for fourth with four recruits in action, including Boys' Latin standout Shack Stanwick of Baltimore, widely considered the top recruit in the class of 2014.
"We knew we had some really talented players," South goalie William Schreiner said. "I think the No. 1 recruit, the No. 3 recruit and downwards all the way to 10. We knew we definitely had the talent. We just kind of had to possess the ball on offense, slow things down and play our game, which is exactly what we did in the second half.
Princeton recruit Sam Bonafede of New York paced the North with a game-high five goals on the night, and it seemed to be a Most Valuable Player-caliber performance in a runaway win. The North opened the scoring just 1:51 into the game, added four more to take a 5-2 lead to close out the quarter and ultimately stretched its advantage to 9-2 early on in the second period — thanks in part to a pair of goals from Johns Hopkins recruit Joel Tinney.
After the North had gotten its ninth goal, though, South coach Ryan Boyle (Gilman) called timeout with 11:34 to play in the half. It paid off immediately.
Out of the break, Las Vegas' Justin Anderson tallied back-to-back goals for the South side, which was able to climb within 13-10 by halftime and erase the North's second-quarter edge.
Because of television considerations — the contest was being shown on ESPNU ahead of the U.S.-Australia game at the Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships — officials employed a running clock for the second half, leading to considerably less scoring after the intermission.
Wynne further cut into the North lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter with his second score of the night. At 13-11, it was the closest the game had been since the final minute of the opening half.
But defensive lapses once again led the South to find itself down three, 15-12, as another period ended.
The South continued to stick around, finally tying things up late, but the North looked to have the game won when it scored the go-ahead goal with 2:54 to play. The North's bench cleared in celebration as the entire team posed for a fake picture in front of the South goal to commemorate the apparent victory.
But Bethesda's Brendan Collins made sure it was far from a picture-perfect ending.
With 1:32 to play, Collins — another Notre Dame recruit — rifled one from the center of the field to even the score once again and send the event to overtime for the first time in its history. And, from there, it didn't take long for Wynne to receive the pass from Stanwick and put the finishing touches on the turnaround.
"I was cutting off a pick on the left side. I popped off. Shack got a step on his man, tossed it into me," Wynne said of his goal. "I think the defender went for the overhead, so I just tucked it, went inside and tried to put it where the goalie wasn't."
It didn't come easily. But when Wynne found the net for his fourth of the night, he also sealed the South's fourth straight win in the event.
And so, after losing four of the first five editions of the All-America Classic, the South will head into next year holding a 5-4 all-time edge.
"The South, from a reputation standpoint, it's always like the North is a little bit tougher," Boyle said. "We tried challenging them a little bit in that regard."
Added Schreiner: "It feels good to come out with a win. South team, we worked real hard in practice. [Boyle] really pushed us.
"Hey, when you're from the Dirty South, what else can you do but win?
Note: The U.S.-Australia game, which had been scheduled for 7 p.m., was delayed more than an hour by bad weather — after the Under Armour game had been sped up with the running clock.
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Dodson contributed to this article.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun