Terps fall in triple OT in title game

Terps fall in triple OT in title game
May 26, 2013, 11:15 pm
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orth Carolina Tar Heels midfielder Taylor George (23) celebrates her goal in front of Maryland Terrapins defender Melissa Diepold (15) during the first half of the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship Game at Villanova Stadium.

(Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

The Maryland women's lacrosse team's quest for a perfect season ended in an imperfect manner late Sunday night.

Sammy Jo Tracy scored 31 seconds into triple overtime to give North Carolina a 13-12 victory over Maryland in the Division I national championship game at Villanova.

The Terrapins came into the game with a 22-0 record and were looking to wrap up an undefeated season. But North Carolina (18-3) started quickly and forced the Terrapins to play from behind or tied much of the night. 

Brooke Griffin led Maryland with two goals and three assists for five points. Cummings helped with three goals and one assist. Katie Schwarzmann (three goals) and Beth Glaros (two goals) also helped. Top scorer Alex Aust was held to one goal and one assist. 

The Tar Heels controlled play in the first half and took a 9-6 lead into the break. But Maryland dominated the first 11 minutes of the second half and scored five straight goals to take an 11-9 lead and seemingly gain command with just under 20 minutes left.

But North Carolina slowly turned things around. After Taylor Cummings and the Terrapins dominated on draw controls, the Tar Heels began to fare better. They won seven of the game's final 10 draws and kept possession for longer stretches, keeping the ball out of the sticks of Maryland's potent offense.

The Tar Heels scored three in a row and took a 12-11 lead on a Kara Cannizzaro free-position shot with nine minutes left. Aust tied it for Maryland with 3:51 left -- and later nearly won it on a shot from just outside the crease with just under two minutes to go, but fired it just high. 

Both teams had -- and missed -- chances in each of the first two overtimes. Maryland goalie Kasey Howard made just one save in regulation but stopped four in overtime, all tough chances. She robbed North Carolina's Brittany Coppa with a great stop 13 seconds into the first overtime and made three more saves.

But North Carolina goalie Megan Ward made a great stop on Griffin from right in front 10 seconds into the third overtime. The Tar Heels quickly raced downfield, and Tracy beat Howard on a low 10-yard shot.

The Tar Heels then needed to hold its celebration until the officials completed a stick check, but everything was fine, and Maryland's dreams for a perfect season were gone.