The Terrapins won’t soon forgot precisely how the Cavaliers forced overtime in what became a 13-12 Virginia victory.
Michael Kraus tied it with 1:14 to go on a shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar and caromed close to midfield to cap a frantic comeback after the third-seeded Cavaliers (15-3) trailed 12-7 early in the fourth quarter and 12-8 with less than four minutes to play.
“It happened so fast,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “You see the ball released, it happens and all the sudden the ball pops out. I didn’t have as good a vantage point as the guys on the field. You’re just kind of trusting that it went in.
“I did ask ‘Listen, are we 100 percent sure that was in?’ and (the officials) said ‘Listen, if we weren’t convinced, we wouldn’t make that call.’ I said OK. I’m not sure I could ask more than that,” Tillman added.
Sophomore Matt Moore won it off a Kraus feed 45 seconds into overtime for Virginia, which will face either Duke or Notre Dame in Saturday’s NCAA semifinals in Philadelphia.
Jared Bernhardt and Anthony DeMaio both scored four goals for unseeded Maryland (12-5), which edged Towson in overtime in the first round to reach the quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive year. It was the first time the Terps stumbled in the quarters in eight appearances under Tillman.
What was striking wasn’t that Maryland lost so much as how it went down. For 50 minutes, the Terps had the better of play, never trailing in regulation and holding the explosive Cavaliers in check.
Meanwhile, Maryland efficiently picked apart the Virginia defense, shooting 12 of 27 on the day. Bernhardt became the third Terp to produce a 50-goal season, joining Mark Douglas (52 in 1991) and Buggs Combs (50 in 2001). A Tewaaraton finalist, Bernhardt closed his junior year with 51 goals.
But the Terps didn’t take a shot after Kyle Long’s attempt was blocked with 8:15 to go. Maryland committed turnovers on its last four possessions, and its faceoff struggles — just 3 of 16 after halftime — were amplified late in the game.
The Cavaliers scored three times in 44 seconds to close within 12-11 before Kraus brought them even. During the four-goal blitz, Maryland had possession just once.
“It’s definitely tough to sit there and watch, but I think our defense did an amazing job stepping up,” midfielder Bubba Fairman said. “Their offense has been phenomenal all season, and I think our defense really stepped up to the plate and held them down. We had all the trust in the world in them. I think if we just got one more possession, we would have been there.”
The Kraus goal prompted questions of whether the sport should add instant replay, particularly in end-game situations.
“It’s about getting it right, and if we can do that, certainly on a stage this big and you’re going to have TV anyway and you’re going to have the ability to do it anyway, why not?” Tillman said. “Whether it hurts you or helps you, it’s really about getting the play right. If we can do it in a timely fashion, why not try it?”
If it is eventually added, it will be too late for a Maryland team that saw its five-year streak of semifinal appearances come to a close. It was a tumultuous final month for the Terps, who edged Ohio State in overtime, lost twice to Johns Hopkins to imperil its postseason chances, then rallied past Towson after receiving a reprieve from the NCAA lacrosse committee.
For much of Saturday, it seemed Maryland would do what it normally does: Play on the final weekend of the season. Instead, it has a late collapse to dwell on until next year.
“It’s tough to go out like that,” Bernhardt said.