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UNC Slips By Maryland 14-13 To Win First Title Since 1991

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In a back and forth affair, UNC gets a sudden victory goal from Chris Cloutier to win the national title in lacrosse 14-13 over Maryland.

The Tar Heels were the early aggressor and kept what had been a red hot offense rolling scoring on the first four possessions to grab a 4-0 edge before Maryland even attempted a shot. A critical misplay by UNC goalie Brian Balkam led to a Maryland interception and quick goal to make it 4-1. That score open the floodgates for the Terps which added three more goals to tie the game at 4-4.

UNC responded with goals from Steve Pontrello and Luke Goldstock to take the lead back at 6-4 and led 6-5 at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter the pace slowed considerably and UNC struggled with clearing shots. After another goal from Goldstock, Maryland tallied three straight to take an 8-7 lead heading into halftime.

After the break, Maryland's control of the game continued with the Terps pushing the lead to 9-7 and it felt like UNC was very much in real danger of slipping too far behind. Carolina's Chris Cloutier had other ideas with three straight goals to put the Tar Heels ahead 10-10. Cloutier also set a new record for goals in the NCAA Tournament with 18. A late goal by the Terps sent the game to the fourth quarter tied at 10-10.

Maryland climbed back on top to start the fourth quarter after a penalty call gave the Terps a fourth extra man possession of the day. Maryland converted it for an 11-10 lead with 13:00 left. UNC answered with Steve Pontrello coming from behind the cage to tie the game at 11-11. Maryland scored on the next two possessions to take a 13-11 lead with 7:49 left and had possession to burn clock. A Balkam save gave the Heels possession back with the extra man on Maryland's first penalty of the game. UNC took immediate advantage to cut the lead to 13-12. After winning the face-off the Tar Heels tied the game at 13-13 with 3:22 left off the Patrick Kelly goal.

What followed was pure chaos. Both teams grabbed possession but committed costly turnovers to leave Maryland in possession with 1:06 left coming out of a timeout. UNC came up with the defensive stop with 3.9 seconds left but Goldstock was caught retaliating for being pushed during the dead ball. Possession went back to Maryland with a one minute extra man advantage that carried over to the overtime period. The penalty also gave the Terps possession to start the overtime instead of a face-off putting Maryland in the catbird seat going into the extra period.

After Maryland worked the ball around Balkam caught the shot in his chest then covered it to save possession. UNC was able to clear the ball and then called timeout. After an incredible save by Maryland goalie Kyle Bernlohr, a flag was thrown on the Terps giving UNC an extra man for one minute. UNC worked the ball around and Cloutier, who brought UNC back from the brink when the Heels trailed down 9-7 with three goals, tallied the game winner to give the Tar Heels a 14-13 win.

UNC's run to the title was impressive and historic becoming the first unseeded team in tournament history to win the championship. The Tar Heels become the first school since Princeton in 1994 to win both the men's and women's title in the same season.