COLLEGE PARK - By the third quarter of yesterday's Maryland-Navy men's lacrosse game, it had become clear that the game was going to be like so many others the rivals have played in the past.
It was close, both teams' defenses were dominating and the game was even 6-5 at one point - the final score between the squads in four meetings from 1996 to 2000.
It was an all-too-painful script for the Midshipmen, until yesterday.
Ending 11 years of frustration against Maryland, the fourth-ranked Mids went on a four-goal run spanning the third and fourth quarters to upend the top-ranked Terps, 9-6, before 6,860 at sunny Byrd Stadium.
The win, easily the biggest in coach Richie Meade's 10 years at Navy, was the Mids' first over a No. 1-ranked team since the academy started keeping records in 1973. They were 0-19 before yesterday.
Maryland, which hadn't lost to Navy since 1992, fell to 8-1.
"We walked out of this game for several years very disappointed, but it's nice to see our players walk out with smiles on their faces," said Meade, whose team improved to 8-1 with its seventh straight win and at the very least, made a case for taking over as the nation's No. 1 team.
Overcoming 35 turnovers and 14 failed clears, Navy won 11 of 18 faceoffs - all but one by junior Chris Pieczonka - and got a solid game from sophomore goalie Matt Russell (12 saves), who was a backup until the Mids' third game.
Senior Joe Bossi scored three goals and sophomore Ian Dingman, the Mids' leading scorer who was outplayed early by Terps All-America defenseman Chris Passavia, scored twice in the fourth quarter to break the game open.
"Today, Navy went after our best players a little bit and our other guys didn't step up," said Terps coach Dave Cottle, who denied that Maryland was looking past Navy toward Saturday's showdown with Johns Hopkins, the 100th meeting between the teams. "To say [we overlooked them] takes away from how well Navy played."
The Terps, who trailed 5-4 at halftime, thought they had their first lead at 6-5 when freshman Mike Brown scored at the 10:15 mark of the quarter.
But Brown's goal was called off because he was in the crease. Five minutes later, the Mids' Bossi beat Maryland goalie Tim McGinnis (11 saves) and it was Navy which led 6-5.
"We watched a lot of film and noticed [McGinnis] was going low a lot," Bossi said. "We tried to keep the ball in the top half of the net."
After Mids midfielder Graham Gill made it 7-5 at the 10:53 mark of the fourth quarter, Dingman, 6 feet 3 and 250 pounds, who has gotten many of his 23 goals by bulling his way toward the goal, worked as a cutter. It resulted in the second of his two consecutive goals with the last one, off an assist from Jon Birsner, giving Navy a 9-5 lead with 6:42 left.
"[Passavia] had my number in the first half," Dingman said. "I did the same thing I did in the first half, it just went my way that time."
When the final horn sounded, the Mids headed toward the stands and celebrated with a large group of Navy fans, who were vocal throughout, even serenading the Terps with chants of "Overrated" as early as the first quarter.
Just 6-7 last year, the Mids have already beaten No. 1 Maryland, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 7 Georgetown and No. 9 Army and are a lock to get an NCAA tournament bid even if they are upset in the Patriot League tournament.
"As much as we do, we're always going to be underrated," Bossi said. "That's the way it goes. We've kind of struggled the last couple of years, but now we're back on top."
Navy 3 2 1 3 - 9
UM 2 2 1 1 - 6
Goals: N-Bossi 3, Dingman 2, Birsner, Bailey, Gill, Horn; M-Walters 3, McGlone, Brown, Matz. Assists: N-Birsner 2, Dingman. Lennon; M-Walters, Ritz, Gillette. Saves: N-Russell 12; M-McGinnis 11, Alford 0.