Jim Bianchi's shot with 19 seconds left whizzed past Kevin O'Leary's knees today as Navy's sixth-ranked lacrosse team defeated Maryland, 16-15, before 6,240 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The game, crucial to both teams' chances for an NCAA postseason berth, was tied nine times. Navy is 5-3; eighth-ranked Maryland dropped to 6-3 and has lost three of its last four games.
Maryland tied for the final time with 48 seconds left as Pete Worstell corralled a 50-yard desperation pass from Don Sadler and beat one defender for his fifth goal of the game.
Navy was out of timeouts, but with 29 seconds left, Maryland called one. Navy seized the opportunity to set up a final play designed by Offensive Coach Jerry Schmidt and it worked to perfection.
"We were going to have Syd (leading scorer Abernethy) draw some people and then he was to dump it off to anyone," Bianchi said of the play on which he scored his 10th and most important goal of the season.
"I had a good screen from my brother (Bob). He (O'Leary) had stopped me high a couple times before so I decided if I got a chance, I would go low on him."
Navy, the only team to get a postseason bid for each of the past 10 years, was very close to having that streak imperiled today.
Rich Wehman put Navy in front for the third time, 10-9, at 7:32 of the third quarter. Maryland responded by tying the game for the sixth time, 10-10, on a goal by Johnny Thompson. The Terps had goals by midfielders Dave Saunders, Klay Johnson and Thompson, to take the biggest lead of the day, 13-10, with 2:26 left in the quarter.
"We didn't look at this game as critical to our playoff chances," said Navy Coach Dick Szlasa. "The attitude of this team was terrific. We were just out there to win. You can only go out so many times and lose."
Navy battled back on goals by Chuck Coughlin, Abernethy and Bill Anderson to tie the game at 13, with four seconds left in the third quarter.
Abernethy's sixth goal put Navy up, 14-13, midway through the fourth quarter. Worstell tied it again 31 seconds later.
Anderson's third goal with 2:50 remaining, put Navy ahead, 15-14, setting up Maryland's successful pass-and-pray score.
In Lexington, Va., the University of Virginia whipped Washington and Lee, 9-6. The Cavaliers jumped to a 5-0 halftime lead, sparked by two goals by junior midfielder Bill Seery. Virginia goalie Joe Bottner had 14 saves, shutting out the Generals in the first half. Virginia (6-2) is tied for third in the national rankings. It was the fourth straight win for the Cavaliers. The 14th-ranked Generals are 3-3.
In Baltimore, Jeff Cook scored five goals and had two assists to lead top-ranked and undefeated (6-0) Johns Hopkins over Army, 17-5.