Maryland parlayed a tight, stingy defense with three-goal efforts by Barry Mitchell and Terry Kimball to defeat pesky Navy, 15-10 yesterday at Byrd Stadium to advance to the NCAA championship lacrosse final.
The second-ranked Terrapins (10-1) will meet top-ranked John Hopkins (12-0), a 16-7 victor over Virginia in the other semifinal, in the title game Saturday at Byrd Stadium at 2.
"They were a little too quick for us on their passes," said Navy attacked Sid Abernathy."We just missed too many shots. We played them tough the first time (Maryland won, 17-12) and it was the same thing. We were a little erratic at times. We just can't seem to beat them."
Maryland, in beating Navy for the seventh consecutive time and 11th time in their last 12 meetings, spotted the visitors a short-lived 1-10 advantage on a goal by Mike Chanenchuk before taking control.
A crowd of 17,000 watched Maryland run off four straight goals, Kimball getting two of them to go ahead ot stay 4-1, with 4:01 left in the first period. Maryland's patient and deliberate offense passed the ball well and the Terps picked their spots against an aggressive Navy defense. Mid goalie Jeff Johnson made several sparkling saves in the first two periods to keep his team from falling further behind.
"He (Johnson) played real well. But our offense was pretty smooth and we ran a lot better than they did," said Ron Martinello, who scored twice and picked up two assists for Maryland. "We controlled play today and just scored at the right times."
Maryland was nursing a 7-4 lead going into the third period but let up just enough to allow Navy to rally back into the contest. The teams traded goals before Mike Hannan and Roger Sexauer slipped hard shots past Terp goalie Bryant Waters to cut the deficit to 8-7, with 6:33 remaining in the thrid period.
"We had that brief lull when we came out after halftime and they caught up," said Maryland attack Johnson Lamon. "We weren't worried about it. We knew all we had to do was to get back in the flow of the game; get intense again. We knew we could pass the bll faster than they could run and hit us."
Following Sexauer's goal, Maryland All-America and leading scorer Bob Boneillo was knocked cold by a Navy player. He lay on the field for several minutes but left on his own power.
"Seeing Bob, our leader, go down, gave us some more incentive," said Martinello. "We knew inside all of us had to pick up the slack."
Boneillo returned shortly thereafter and immediately assisted on a goal by Martinello to push Maryland out to a 9-7 lead. The Terps, suddenly dominating again, fired shot after shot at Johnson and eventually moved out to a 12-8 lead after three periods.
The Terps' fifth goal of the quarter was a textbook play. They played keep-away for the final 1:21 of the period before Kimball, on an assist from Martinello, fired in a goal with just four seconds on the clock.
Navy outshot Maryland, 54-49, but many of the shots were far off the mark. Those that came close were swallowed up or knocked away by Waters (22 saves). In the final 19 minutes, Navy managed 15 shots but only Hannan and David Guill were able to puncture Maryland's defense for goals.
In between the Navy scores, Mike Farrell (two goals) and Martinello were scoring to sew up the Terps' sixth trip to the national final in the last nine years. The Terps and Navy are the only schools to participate in all nine national tourneys.
"Bryant made several keys saves, we played -good defense and the offense controlled the ball more," said Maryland Coach Bud Beardmore. "With the offense holding the ball longer, the defense could stay out longer for breathers and didn't wear down.
"Both teams were hitting pretty good in the fourth quarter and the refs let us play. We kept our poise and I'm proud of the guys. They did a great job."
Navy (9-4) saw its final chance to break its hex against the Terps disappear on a slick goal by Martinello with just 3:47 to play. Martinello dished a behind the-back pass to Mike Duffy who gave the ball right back to the free midfielder to pad the Terp lead to 14-9.
The Terps won the NCAA final in 1975, besting Navy 20-13.