FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — After back-to-back heartbreaks in the last two title games extended decades of frustration, Maryland was finally able to celebrate.
Dylan Maltz had two goals and an assist and Tim Rotanz scored three times as the top-seeded Terrapins defeated Ohio State 9-6 on Monday in the NCAA lacrosse championship game, putting an end to a 42-year title drought.
“It’s an unbelievable experience. You look at everyone who played so hard for this program and set such a platform for us to succeed, it’s awesome to see them in the crowd,” Rotanz said. “I have no feeling right now. I’m numb.”
Rotanz scored the final goal with 59 seconds left, allowing the Terps (16-3) a little comfort to count down the final minute after three goals by Ohio State in the fourth quarter pulled the Buckeyes within two.
The Terps held on, then rushed the field beneath a cloud of gloves and sticks they tossed in the air to celebrate putting an end to their own frustration.
“Two losses in two years is very hard to do and overcome, but that just says an awful lot of what the Terps are about,” said Connor Kelly, who scored his team-high 46th goal Monday.
It was especially gratifying for Kelly, a junior who just missed with a shot in overtime of last year’s championship game against North Carolina. A short time later, the Tar Heels scored and won it 14-13, extending Maryland’s pain another year.
“After what happened last year, for them to be back up here speaks to their character and how hard they worked and what a true team and how unselfish they are,” coach John Tillman said.
The victory clinched a sweep for both the Maryland men’s and women’s programs. The Terps won the women’s title Sunday, beating Boston College 16-13 in the championship.
Adam DiMillo scored twice, Matt Rambo had a goal and an assist and Connor Kelly scored for Maryland.
Tre Leclaire had a goal and an assist for Ohio State (16-5), playing in the title game for the first time. Six players scored for the Buckeyes as they came up short in their third meeting against Maryland. The Buckeyes won the regular-season match 11-10, Maryland prevailed by the same score in overtime for the Big Ten tournament championship, and the Terps won when it mattered most.
“It hasn’t fully set in yet, but it’s been a heck of a ride and I couldn’t more happy and have more pride to finish it out here with these guys,” Ohio State senior goalie Tom Carey, who had 13 saves Monday.
Although it was a disappointing end, this was by far the Buckeyes’ best season in lacrosse. Ohio State was in the NCAAs for just the sixth time and had never been past the second round.
“They’ve created a new standard both on the field and off, an expectation, and helped really define what we refer to as the Buckeye way,” Ohio State coach Nick Myers said.
The familiarity between the Terps and Buckeyes was evident in a low-scoring game, which Maryland broke open with four consecutive goals late in the first half for a 5-2 halftime lead.
The tight defense continued through the third quarter, with Ohio State and Maryland exchanging goals, then Maltz struck 1:22 into the fourth quarter, bouncing a shot past Carey for a 7-3 lead.
As the clock ran down, excitement built on the Maryland sideline. The Terps sensed the end of the championship wait was coming. Rambo’s goal with 10:36 left made it 8-3 with time running out for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State had gone 15:29 without a goal until Jake Withers scored with 10:24 remaining. Leclaire scored again for the Buckeyes, and Johnny Pearson’s goal with 2:25 remaining pulled them within two goals before Rotanz sealed it for Maryland.
“We’ve got the players and we’ve got the belief,” Ohio State’s Tyler Pfister said. “We thought that was something that could continue to take us further. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough time at the end.”
After Colin Chell’s goal put Ohio State up 2-1 in the first quarter, Maryland tied it on a goal by DiMillo, starting the Terps on a 4-0 run. Kelly scored on a wraparound to give Maryland its first lead with 59 seconds left in the period, and Maltz and DiMillo added second-quarter goals to put the Terps up 5-2 at halftime.
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