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Kelly, Rambo and defense lead Terps past UNC

Connor Kelly had three goals and three assists to help lead Maryland past North Carolina.

Connor Kelly had three goals and three assists to help lead Maryland past North Carolina.

It was 10 days ago when the Maryland men’s lacrosse team held off Albany’s top-5 scoring offensive. On Saturday they shut down another one of the nation’s best scoring teams as they beat No. 12 North Carolina, 11-8.

Heading into the game the Tar Heels were averaging 13.5 goals per game, but the Terps top-10 defense proved to be the winner as North Carolina was held to it’s second fewest number of goals this year. Goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr finished the game with nine saves and the Terps caused eight turnovers in the game.

“They key with them (UNC) is they will always have six dangerous men out there os it’s everybody being organized, slide when you need to slide and then recovering really fast and making sure you’re communicating on the recoveries because if you don’t slide they’ll kill you,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “And if you slide and you don’t take away their insider or rotate to the right guy, they’ll throw back and those guys have great range.”

Matt Rambo and Connor Kelly were also able to maneuver their way through the Tar Heel’s defense to help in the effort by maintaining possession for the Terps, keeping it away from North Carolina’s deadly attack.

Kelly finished the game with three goals and three assists while Rambo led the Terps with four goals.

Maryland has over a week off since their last game. That time was not wasted. Tillman gave his team some time off so they could recover both mentally and physically, but while they were doing that he and his coaching staff were devising a strong game plan and the rejuvenated team worked hard on it in practice for an entire week before the game.

“We had great momentum coming in,” Kelly said. “When we were out there things opened up, everybody was just moving the ball and our pace was great.”

Only one Tar Heel was able to score more than one goal in the game. That was Patrick Kelly, and one of his two goals came with just 40 seconds left after the game was pretty much over.

The Tar Heels did strike first, though, when Chris Cloutier finished a feed from Steve Pontrello just three minutes into the game. But Kelly gave Maryland a lead just a minute and a half later with a pair of unassisted goal.

Neither team would break the other over the next 10 minutes, but with 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Kelly dished off a pass to Colin Heacock and he finished to give Maryland a 3-1 lead.

“One of the things that’s great about our pieces is three is so much flexibility and Connor is a prime example,” Tillman said. “He’ll play some attack and sometimes he’s up top and sometimes he’s behind. … He’s pretty dangerous from anywhere, but getting him up top and letting him go, he’s got good range and he’s a pretty good passer.”

Brain Cannon cut Maryland’s lead back to won with a goal with only five seconds left on the clock in the opening quarter. But Maryland didn’t take long in the second quarter to get back ahead when Kelly dished out his second assists of the game at 12:25 in the second quarter. Bryan Cole scored his seventh goal of the year off of that one in a man-up situation following a 30-second holding penalty called on the Tar Heel’s Kelly.

UNC was held off for nearly eight minutes, but after a one-minute slashing call on Mike McCarney and a 30-second holding penalty on Mac Pons, Maryland was down two men, and UNC is way too good to not score with a two-man advantage. Steve Pontrello took a pass from Cloutier and netted his 24th goal of the year.

But Maryland never allowed the Tar Heels to build momentum. Kelly completed his hat trick not too long later for re-give Maryland a two-goal lead. Timmy Kelly would score for the Tar Heels just 17 second later, but Maryland struck back too as Rambo finally scored with 16 seconds left before halftime.

Out of the break Colin Heacock took a feed from Kelly and finished for a goal. Patrick Kelly they scored his first or two goals for North Carolina, but again, Maryland never let them get on a run and Rambo scored again off a feed from Cole. Peyton Klawinski scored for UNC a minute and a half later, but the Terps scored three-straight goals and shut UNC down for the next 17 minutes to secure the victory.

Maryland let 11-6 with 1:45 remaining before UNC added two late goals to make the final score look closer.

The win was Maryland’s second-straight win over a ranked opponent after dropping two against ranked teams earlier in the year. The Terps will stay on the road for their next three games. They will play at Penn on Tuesday and they travel to conference rivals Michigan and Penn State the next two weekends.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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