On March 23, 2013, the Maryland men's lacrosse team was undefeated. It was facing North Carolina. It lost, 10-8, and the team was never again as dangerous.
Saturday was almost a year to that day, and the No. 1 Terps were facing the No. 7 Tar Heels. They were again undefeated. Once more, they lost, 11-8, their first of a surprising season in which they had, until going down to Chapel Hill, defied others' expectations, their own inexperience and last season's hard finish.
With a 17-9 win Saturday at No. 14 Penn, No. 3 Cornell (8-0) is now the only unbeaten team in the nation.
The Terps (7-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) weren't tested in a 13-5 win Tuesday at Michigan, but they had been challenged in their two previous wins, a three-goal victory over Stony Brook and two-goal squeaker over Villanova.
Neither team has the talent of North Carolina (7-2, 1-2), but Maryland played as if it didn't matter. Goalkeeper Niko Amato stopped only eight of 19 shots. The Terps' starting attack unit was held without a goal, and attackman Tim Rotanz without a shot. There were bad turnovers, 16 in all, and costly turnovers.
And yet, Maryland entered the fourth quarter at Kenan Stadium down only 8-7. It had trailed at halftime for the first time all season and, because of faceoff specialist Charlie Raffa (17-for-23 overall), not fallen behind by more than two goals all game.
Then Tar Heels attackman Joey Sankey scored, and it was 10-7. Midfielder Colin Heacock (Boys' Latin), who along with Connor Cannizzaro was Mayland's only multigoal scorer, answered to cut the lead. North Carolina defenseman Jake Bailey scored midway through the fourth quarter, and the Terps never scored again.
After it first lost last year, Maryland won its next two games, then fell in three of its next five, including a first-round blowout loss in the NCAA tournament to Cornell. Maryland will return to action next Sunday against No. 8 Virginia, surely hoping that this season will not end like last season.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun