Less than two minutes remained in Ryan Boyle's sterling college lacrosse career -- unless he could do something to extend it. Trailing No. 3 seed Maryland by two with less than two minutes left in regulation, Boyle, the two-time Ivy League player of the year, carried Princeton to a 9-8 overtime victory, stunning the Terrapins in an NCAA quarterfinal Saturday.
The attackman scored twice, including the game-tying goal with 12 seconds remaining in regulation, to force a sudden-death overtime period. He won the game by finding Peter Trombino for the goal that boosted sixth-seeded Princeton (11-3) into the final four.
"We always make it exciting," Boyle said.
Maryland Coach Dave Cottle called the loss "brutal." The Terps finished the season 13-3.
On a sweltering afternoon at Scott Stadium, the Terps lost an early lead, forced four ties, then went on a three-goal spurt to forge an 8-6 lead late in the fourth quarter. Then Boyle took over.
"I'm just so sorry it had to end like that," Maryland fifth-year goalie Tim McGinnis said, fighting to keep from breaking down in tears.
Maryland's lead was safe for 8 1/2 minutes in the final quarter, with Princeton working on a scoreless streak that reached 17 1/2 minutes. Then with 1 minute 55 seconds left, Boyle darted out from behind the net, spun around and powered under all-American defenseman Chris Passavia to beat McGinnis, cutting the margin to 8-7.
Even then the Terps seemed in good shape. They survived a hail of shots from Boyle and his teammates and got the ball back, but a clearing pass from McGinnis to midfielder Brendan Healy sailed high, going out of bounds. Re-established on offense with 1:10 left, Princeton eventually worked the ball to Boyle, who saved his team by beating Passavia and McGinnis with a move nearly identical to the one a few moments earlier.
"When you've got that little time left, you've got to go all or nothing. Luckily it was 'all,' " said Boyle, whose Tigers will play either Cornell or Navy in a semifinal game next weekend in Baltimore.
Maryland began the four-minute overtime with a man advantage after Princeton was called for holding with one second left in regulation, but the Terps turned the ball over without a shot. The Tigers called a timeout and set up a play for Boyle -- who else? -- only Cottle was determined to make someone else take the shot this time. That left more room for Trombino, the Ivy League rookie of the year who hadn't scored all afternoon.
"Everyone slid down to Ryan and somehow he found that little hole," Trombino said. "I was like, 'Is the ball really coming to me?' Everything just went well from there. It was just surreal, to get that opening, get that shot in the playoffs."
As the Tigers swarmed the field in celebration, the Terps were left to sort through shock, anger and sadness. Left to mull over each missed scoring chance, each failed clear, each turnover.
"The fact is, the game was ours to win," McGinnis said.
* JOHNS HOPKINS 15, NORTH CAROLINA 9: The top-seeded Blue Jays won the first quarterfinal by scoring in bunches, using an early 8-2 run and a late 6-1 run to advance to the final four for the 25th time.
Hopkins (13-1) amassed 26 shots in the first half, twice as many as No. 8 seed UNC, and assumed a 9-4 lead soon after halftime on Conor Ford's fifth goal of the game. The Tar Heels (10-5) made a third-quarter push, but one that produced only three goals, cutting the lead to two. Kyle Harrison and Benson Erwin helped the Blue Jays regain control with back-to-back goals.