WEST POINT, N.Y. -- The first quarter ended and Maryland led by three goals, prompting a feeling on the bench that things were going almost too well against Army.
The Cadets agreed. They reversed the momentum yesterday with six straight second-quarter goals. With that edge, Army eased to a 15-11 victory in an NCAA Division I regional playoff at West Point's Michie Stadium.
Both programs are now on a perilous course.
As its reward for winning, 10th-ranked Army must travel to top-ranked North Carolina on Saturday for the quarterfinal.
The Terps, ranked 12th in the final U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll and the ninth seed in the tournament, lose to graduation seven seniors, including their starting midfield.
Army is 12-3, its 12 wins a record for this program. The Terps emerged from a difficult schedule 6-6. They lost twice to North Carolina, dropped their annual meeting with Johns Hopkins and split with Virginia. It is Maryland's first non-winning season since the Terrapins went 5-5 in 1980.
For Maryland freshman goalie Brian Dougherty and coach Dick Edell, this game was a return home of sorts. Edell was Army's head coach for seven years, 1977-83. Dougherty was born a few miles down the road, son of former Army basketball coach Dan Dougherty, Bob Knight's successor there.
It was their first tournament appearance since 1987, and the Cadets made the most of it.
"It just seemed they had all their shots wide-open," said Dougherty.
Two goals especially hurt Maryland. The first was Todd Butler's unassisted score at 9:55 in the second quarter, which gave Army the lead for good at 6-5.
"That really got us going because it bounced high," said freshman Dan Brostek, who led Army with four goals. "Our coach [Jack Emmer] kept telling us to bounce it high instead of bouncing it at the goalie's ankles."
Then, only 54 seconds after the Butler goal, Dougherty tried to clear the ball while under pressure from Army attackman Steve Heller. His efforts instead resulted in an Army goal credited to Steve Heller, one of four Cadets to finish with two goals.
"That was me," Dougherty said. "The ball bounced around. And instead of clamping it on the ground, I tried to scoop it right away.
The ugliest moment for Maryland came late in the third quarter on a crushing check on senior midfielder Bob Huggins (Sykesville) delivered by Army's Eric Waltz. It took Huggins a few fTC minutes to recover from the hit, but he was able to score Maryland's final goal. On that play, a laneopened for an Army fast break. Brostek was open for a quick-shot score that gave Army an 11-6 lead at 12:56.
Three straight Maryland goals in the fourth cut Army's lead to 12-9, but the Terps couldn't reduce the margin further. "We were just sliding better from the cage and helping out each other much better," said Army defenseman Adam Silva (Meade).
The Terps trailed, 8-5, at halftime. They did have a 30-second power play after the opening second-half faceoff but were unable to convert the chance. Edell considered that instance a ++ significant setback, although Maryland did score on five of seven power plays.
After Army's Chad Allen started the scoring by beating Dougherty with an unassisted goal 38 seconds into the game, two Army penalties contributed to three straight Maryland goals in a span of 3:59.
Brian McElhenny (team-high three goals) started this comeback, taking a feed from Matt Parks and putting it by Aguilar at 3:36. Then senior Scott McMahon capitalized on an offside penalty, working in from behind the net to score. Parks, at 7:35, picked off the rebound of a Rick Aguilar save while the ball still was in the air and quickly stuffed it in the net.
Maryland 5 0 1 5 -- 11
Army 2 6 3 4 -- 15