By Russ Atkinson and from Press Release
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/28/16
The No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse team defeated No. 5 Brown, 15-14, in a thrilling overtime game on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia to advance to the program’s 13th national championship appearance.
Junior attackman Colin Heacock netted the game-winner with 2:41 remaining in the first overtime period off a Matt Rambo (La Salle, Duke’s L.C.) assist. It was Heacock’s third tally of the day and 40th of the year. The goal also marked his 50th point of the season. Rambo had a career-high five assists and one goal in the game.
Maryland (17-2) will face former conference foe North Carolina in the NCAA National Championship on Monday at 1 p.m. on ESPN2. The game also will match Rambo – a second-team All-American and Phillylacrosse.com Player of the Year in 2013 against his best friend, UNC defensean Austin Pifani.
“It’s special; I am an Eagles fan and this is the Eagles’ stadium and Philadelphia is a blue-collar city,” said Rambo. “My family and friends were all in the stands. You saw all the Terps fans here – it’s an amazing atmosphere here in Philadelphia.
“(Austin) grew up down the street from me and we have played together since third grade. He’s a really good player; he puts in the work. We are in the weight room together, we coach with Dukes together and hang out every day in the summer. It will be awesome playing against him.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s unreal you cant write this – two best friends in the National championship, playing against each other.”
For Brown, Will Gural (Haverford School, Duke’s LC) won 20 of 31 face offs and scored once and Henry Blynn (Haverford School, Duke’s LC) had two goals and two assists and the goal that drew the Bears within 14-13.
“Playing in Philly was probably the most special experience of my life,” said Blynn. “It was really cool having all my college friends see me play and having a whole fan section behind me in the first and third quarters was incredible. Getting to play in front of the fans and coaches from all the way back at Radnor Township was really cool. Getting all the support was a great way to go out.”
The Terps jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with back-to-back goals coming within 16 seconds. An inverted Rambo found his linemate Heacock sneaking around the crease for the first score of the game. Short-stick defensive midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen then deposited a rocket off a Heacock assist.
Brown (16-3) would find the net before another pair of Maryland goals coming just 55 seconds apart, stretching the lead to 4-1. One of those tallies came from Rambo, which was his 40th of the year, marking the second time in as many years he achieved that milestone. It also marked the first time since 1998 that two Terps eclipsed the 40-goal plateau (Rambo and Heacock).
Additionally, senior midfielder Bryan Cole’s two assists gave him 50 points on the year, also marking the first time since 1998 that three Terps have reached that mark (Cole, Rambo, Heacock).
The Bears would respond, however, with a four-goal run to take a 5-4 advantage. Sophomore midfielder Connor Kelly evened the score at five to round out the opening frame.
It was Brown who came out firing in the second quarter with two straight goals, but Maryland had the answer with a run of their own. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Tim Rotanz added a score and senior midfielder Henry West found the back of the net off a skip pass from Cole, which tied the contest at seven.
After a Bears score for a one goal edge, senior defenseman Matt Dunn unlocked Brown’s 10-man ride as he launched a goal from just outside Maryland’s defensive restraining box. Dunn’s first career goal happened to be jumpstarted by Nick Manis, who notched his first career assist on the play.
Heacock rounded out the scoring for the half with a terrific individual effort coming from behind the cage to give the Terps a 9-8 halftime lead.
Maryland would extend their lead to start the second half after consecutive goals from junior attackman Dylan Maltz. Freshman attackman Louis Dubick would also score on an extra man opportunity to give the Terps a 12-8 advantage.
Brown’s goal with 23 seconds remaining in the third frame ended a scoreless drought of 21:34 spanning the second and third quarters.
Maryland’s defense stood tall throughout the contest, which lead to 24 turnovers by the Bears. Senior goalie Kyle Bernlohr made 11 stops on the day including five fourth quarter saves.
The Bears would score to open up the final quarter, followed by two Maryland goals to extend the lead back to four at 14-10.
The electric Brown offense then sparked with four consecutive goals to send the contest to extra time, but it was eventually Heacock who put the exclamation point on semifinal Saturday.