Maryland enjoys a 42-24 record against North Carolina and a 2-1 mark in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels are making their sixth appearance in the title game and are 4-1 at this stage of the postseason. The Terps have advanced to their 13th overall championship final and their fourth in the last six years, but they are 0-8 since capturing their second and last crown in 1975.

North Carolina (11-6), the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season titlist, has upended No. 6 seed Marquette, No. 3 seed Notre Dame and No. 7 seed Loyola Maryland, knocking off three consecutive seeded opponents for the first time since 1986. In Saturday's 18-13 thrashing of the Greyhounds in the first semifinal, the offense got nine goals on 12 shots from attackman Chris Cloutier. The sophomore's output tied an NCAA tournament record for goals shared by Brown's Oliver Marti and Syracuse's Gary Gait.


Maryland (17-2), the Big Ten regular-season and tournament champion, has extended its program-record win streak to 16 and has not dropped a game since a 9-5 loss to Notre Dame on March 5. Despite surrendering a season-worst 14 goals in an overtime win against No. 5 seed Brown in Saturday's second semifinal, the team has trailed for only 14 minutes, 21 seconds in more than 360 minutes over its last six games. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr still ranks eighth in Division I in goals-against average (7.96) and 18th in save percentage (.543).

Here are a few factors that could play a role in the today's outcome at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m.

1) Faceoffs. North Carolina's convincing wins against Notre Dame and Loyola Maryland had much to do with the offense's improvement, but Maryland coach John Tillman pointed to another factor: junior faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly. The Lutherville resident and Calvert Hall graduate won 68.0 percent (17-of-25) of his draws and picked up 11 ground balls against the Fighting Irish and then claimed 54.3 percent (19-of-35) and collected nine loose balls against the Greyhounds.

"He's started very fast the last few games and has given them opportunities early," Tillman said. "I think any of us, if you go into a game and get the first few faceoffs, there's a sense of comfort there. It's just, 'All right, we've got the first possession, let's get into a flow,' and all of a sudden, you get one and another one and another one, and whether they scored or you scored, it's nice to get those reps early. So I think Stephen has really helped them, and their wing play has been very good, too."

2) Matt Rambo. Maryland's offensive success as of late has been fueled by the junior attackman, who has registered eight goals and nine assists in three NCAA tournament games. Rambo scored four goals on 12 shots in the Terps' 11-8 victory over North Carolina on March 26, and he jokingly reminded Tar Heels coach Joe Breschi of that performance at an NCAA banquet Thursday night.

"He looked over at me after scoring his fourth goal," Breschi said, referring to the contest in March. "[At the banquet,] he said, 'Yeah, I was wondering when you were going to start doubling me.' It was all in fun because we recruited him as well. He's an exceptional player. So I think just having a couple different looks to throw at him will hopefully get him off-balance because he's a great player. And he's surrounded by five other really talented players. So we have to play great team defense not just to stop him, but hopefully to slow down their offense."

3) Chris Cloutier. As mentioned above, Cloutier scored nine goals against Loyola and has posted 14 goals and three assists in the postseason. But the entire North Carolina offense has clicked since moving senior Steve Pontrello from midfield to attack, and five of the six starters have recorded at least 35 points each. Tillman noted that the Tar Heels are not as dependent on a few superstars as they had been in years past with attackmen Joey Sankey and Jimmy Bitter.

"That chemistry has evolved," Tillman said. "Maybe they're not the same as what they were last year with Sankey and Bitter, but they're really successful kind of doing it their way and taking what their strengths are, and that's a credit to [offensive coordinator] Dave Metzbower. Those guys are working so well together."

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