Navy lacrosse starting midfielder Graham Gill entered the game against No. 6 Maryland last night shooting 15 percent. He left it a hero.
Gill scored two goals in the final 2 minutes 2 seconds, including the winning goal with 14 seconds left in Navy's 9-8 victory before 14,124 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
It is the first time No. 8 Navy (8-2) has won consecutive games against Maryland since 1980-81.
Another midfielder who entered in a shooting slump nearly gave Maryland (5-4) the victory. Junior Brendan Healy was shooting 16 percent on the season when he scored back-to-back goals, the last of which gave the Terrapins an 8-7 lead with 8:32 to play.
That was the score when the Terrapins gained possession with 6:15 left. They held the ball for more than three minutes; all-American Joe Walters and junior Andrew Schwartzman each took shots that were saved by Navy all-American goalkeeper Matt Russell.
Maryland lost possession after it was called for stalling with 3:13 left. The game was tied about a minute later. Gill beat junior shortstick defender Ryan Lang and scored on a shot while he was nearly adjacent to the goal.
Navy won the next faceoff, and Gill scored the winner on a five-yard shot from another acute angle after he got past longstick defender Ryan Clarke and shortstick Travis Holmes.
"We tried to run a play, but they defended it pretty well," Gill said of the winning goal. "[Freshman] Nick Mirabito made a great decision not to force it in there. Then Billy [Looney] set a pick for me, I got the defender on my back and buried it. Finally."
Said Maryland Coach Dave Cottle: "From what I heard, they put those shots in some really small holes. They must've been great shots."
Gill finished with three goals and senior Ben Horn and junior Steve Looney each added two goals for Navy. Walters had three goals for Maryland.
Maryland had one last chance to tie the game. Junior David Tamberrino, who earlier had scored the first goal of his career, won the next faceoff. As he headed downfield, however, Navy senior Chris Pieczonka hit Tamberrino's stick from behind and knocked the ball loose.
Senior defender Mitch Hendler picked up the loose ball and cleared it. With about two seconds left, Tamberrino hit Hendler in the head with his stick.
Hendler later said he was knocked unconscious for about 10 seconds, and it took a couple Navy officers who were on the sideline to make sure Tamberrino got out of the group of Navy players who were storming the field to celebrate.
Hendler was treated after the game for a concussion.
The past six games in the series have been decided by one, one, one, one, two and three goals. So it was a bit out of character when Navy took a 6-3 lead following a goal by sophomore Tommy Wallin with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
The lead lasted less than two minutes. By then, Walters scored two goals and then Tamberrino tied the game at 6 with 4:34 left in the third quarter.