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No. 1 Terps hold off No. 8 Yale, 12-11

Tim Mueller caused three turnovers as the Terps held off No. 8 Yale.

Special contribution to So Much Sports
By: James Crabtree-Hannigan

The final 37 seconds of the Maryland men’s lacrosse top-ten matchup with Yale on Sunday lasted about 90 minutes.

With No. 1 Maryland leading 12-11 and 37 seconds left on the clock, a lightning delay — the second of the game — stopped play for one hour and 24 minutes.

The Terps had possession out of the postponement but were called for a shot clock violation with nine seconds left. No. 8 Yale used both of its timeouts in its closing stretch, sandwiched around a shot from midfielder Eric Scott, who already had five goals on the day.

Scott’s shot was wide, however, leaving the Bulldogs with just two seconds to try to send the game to overtime. Their desperation attempt was fruitless, and Maryland escaped with a 12-11 win that took over four hours to complete.

“One of the stranger games I’ve ever been a part of,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “We knew that the weather could be a factor and … [it was] one of the few times the weather guys were right.”

The first stoppage came with 4:17 left in the game and lasted a little over half an hour, meaning the game was delayed for a total of one hour and 57 minutes.

While the weather breaks contributed to the game’s oddity, Tillman also thought they may have helped his team win.

“The weather came at a good time for us,” he said. “The captains did a really good job of just relaxing everybody.”

Maryland had opened a six-goal lead midway through the third quarter but saw that lead erode over the next 15 minutes. Yale roared back to close the third, outscoring Maryland 5-1 over the last 10 minutes of the period.

“We’ve got to handle the lead a bit better,” Tillman said.

Scott opened scoring in the fourth quarter, receiving a pass as he cut towards the goal and delivering a clean finish into the lower left corner to cut Maryland’s lead to 12-11 with less than 10 minutes to play.

“We didn’t play our best game [or] our cleanest game,” Tillman said. “We had to handle some adversity, handle some tough situations.”

Maryland’s offense squandered its possessions for much of the fourth quarter and didn’t score a goal in the period. After Yale was called for entering the crease with about eight minutes left, an errant pass from Jared Bernhardt went out of bounds and gave the ball right back to the Bulldogs.

Terps goalkeeper Dan Morris made the stop on the subsequent possession, but before Maryland turned the ball back over before it was cleared.

“It just wasn’t easy,” Tillman said. “We had a tough time in the fourth quarter just handling the ball and just weren’t clean.”

Once Yale secured that loose ball, the officials blew play dead for the lightning delay.

Maryland attackman Colin Heacock said the team tried to stay positive and loose during the breaks. Coach John Tillman said he and the Terps actually enjoyed the stoppages and passed the time listening to music.

After play resumed, the Bulldogs hit the post with a shot and Morris alertly left his position to chase after the ball and was closest to it as it rolled out of bounds, earning possession for his team with a few minutes left.

Morris finished with 11 saves but didn’t make one in the third quarter, allowing Yale to creep back into the game. He had three stops in the final 15 minutes, though, and two after the Bulldogs were within one score.

His clutch play to give Maryland possession set the scene for perhaps the most deliberate and diagrammed 37 seconds in lacrosse history.

“I thought it was great,” Tillman said of the break. “We just looked at, ‘What were [the] scenarios?’ Were they going to double-team the ball and pull the goalie? … We just talked about scenarios.”

Before halftime, the best play Tillman could’ve drawn up seemed to be to simply get the ball in Colin Heacock’s possession.

Heacock had three goals and an assist in the first two quarters, adding an assist after halftime to grab a team-high five points.

Maryland took a 3-2 lead with 5:32 left in the first quarter, and Heacock scored or assisted on each of the team’s next four goals.

He dished to Rambo — who finished with two goals and an assist — to give Maryland a 4-2 advantage, then scored a hat trick, including two unassisted goals and one after the referees had started the shot clock. The Terps had a 7-3 lead by the end of his scoring burst.

“Going into this game we knew what they were going to do and throw at us,” Heacock said after praising the scout team. “Fortunately my teammates on offense and everybody was moving the ball well and we were in the right spots at the right time.”

In the early stages, though, Maryland was losing the faceoff battle. Austin Henningsen started 0-for-4 at the X before Tillman replaced him with Will Bonaparte, who won his first faceoff but lost the next two.

Maryland entered halftime leading 8-4, and Henningsen entered the break just 2-9.

Tillman said his team drew confidence from its strong performance despite the faceoff struggles, believing a turn of fortune at the X could help them build a larger lead.

Henningsen won the first eight faceoffs of the second half, though, and scored two goals in the third quarter for his first career two-goal game as Maryland opened a six-goal lead.

“We did get goals from kind of non-traditional places,” Tillman said, noting two goals from long sticks in addition to Henningsen’s scores. “We try to emphasize trying to score goals in different ways so that maybe if offensively we’re just not playing as clean as we’d like, you can find different ways to maybe get some momentum.

“That was huge for us.”

Henningsen’s first goal put Maryland up 11-5 and his second came after Yale had scored three in a row to cut the lead to 11-8. The Bulldogs continued to come close, but the Terps never let them tie the game late and moved to 4-0 on the season.

It was a roller-coaster win that Tillman thought gave the team the best of both worlds, he said.

“It’s always about looking at what we did and trying to find ways to improve,” Tillman said. “And if you can win, that’s a bonus.”

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