April 24, 2010

* Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Junior attackman Grant Catalino scored a career-high six goals to lead the No. 4 University of Maryland men's lacrosse team to a decisive 13-5 victory over No. 3 North Carolina in the semifinals of the ACC tournament Friday night at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

Maryland (9-2) will compete for the ACC tournament championship for the first time since 2006 on Sunday, April 25, when it takes on No. 1 seed Virginia, which dispatched No. 4 seed Duke in the first semifinal by a score of 16-12. The Terps and Cavaliers are slated for a 3:30 p.m. start at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium.

The Terps never trailed in the game and jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on Catalino's first tally of the day, a simple dodge around his defender that he finished with a sneaky shot over Carolina goalie Chris Madalon's shoulder.

Junior attackman Ryan Young, who finished with four points on a goal and a game-high three assists, gave Maryland a 2-0 lead going into the second quarter with a wrap-around goal at the 2:26 mark of the first.

Maryland was able to get off to such a good start thanks to senior Bryn Holmes, who dominated the face-off X. Holmes won all three first quarter face-offs and 4 of 6 in the second quarter to give Maryland an overwhelming advantage in possession time. He finished the day winning 13 of 20 face-offs.

Redshirt -junior Brian Farrell gave the Terps a 3-0 lead in early in the second quarter with a nice transition goal that started with a big save by senior Brian Phipps on a tough shot by UNC's Gavin Petracca. Phipps made the save and the rebound was picked up by senior Dean Hart, who got the ball ahead to Farrell. Carolina didn't pick Farrell up as he entered the attack zone and he made the Tar Heels pay by ripping a shot past Madalon.

Carolina finally got on the board, snapping a scoreless stretch of 22:44 with Jimmy Dunster's only goal of the evening at the 8:16 mark of the second.

But Maryland responded with Catalino's second goal of the night four minutes later. Redshirt junior Dan Burns dodged his defender and slipped a pass to Catalino, who curled into the right wing and buried a shot inside the near pipe.

After a Carolina goal by Thomas Wood cut the Maryland lead back to 4-2 freshman John Haus, who grew up playing lacrosse in North Carolina, scored his first of three on the night. It was again a save by Phipps that started the transition opportunity, but this time it was Hart pushing the ball up the field. He drifted into the left side of the UNC box and saw Haus coming in from the midfield line. Hart hit Haus with a good pass in stride and Haus stepped into a shot and laced a low 12-yarder past Madalon to give the Terps a three-goal cushion going into halftime.

The third quarter was all Maryland as the Terps outscored the Tar Heels 3-0. Haus scored his second of the game at the 10:30 mark to put the Terps up 6-2. Catlaino then scored back-to-back goals, the first coming on the extra-man unit off an assist from Young and the second off an assist from Burns, to up the Maryland lead to 8-2 at the end of the third.

Maryland's scoring barrage continued into the fourth quarter with Haus's third goal of the evening, just 40 seconds into the quarter. Haus came around from behind the left side of the Carolina goal on the invert and was knocked to the ground, falling away from the crease. But Hause somehow managed to flip the ball over his shoulder past Madalon for the 9-2 Terrapin lead.

A violation on the ensuing face-off gave Maryland the ball right back and Farrell made the Tar Heels pay immediately. Holmes took the free possession and raced into the Carolina box. The Tar Heels stopped his progression, but Holmes found Farrell in the left alley, where he ripped a shot from 15 yards into the upper far corner to give the Terps an eight goal lead.

Carolina tried to claw back into the game with goals by Marcus Holman, Wood and Petracca, but the Terps would not be denied on this night.

Catalino scored back-to-back goals midway through the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for good. Catalino's six goals marks the first time a Terp has scored that many since Joe Walters put up six goals at Johns Hopkins in 2006.

Senior attackman Fran Gormley closed out the scoring with his fist goal since 2007 off an assist from Young at the 2:58 mark.

The offense wasn't the only key to the victory as the Terrapin defense was tremendous, playing its best complete game of the season. Junior Brett Schmidt took center stage for the Terps' "D" with his match-up against UNC All-American Billy Bitter. Schmidt was dominating in his performance, holding Bitter without a point for the first time in 30 games. Schmidt, along with help from the rest of the Maryland defense that supported him whenever he needed it, allowed Bitter only one shot in the game and helped four Bitter into committing six turnovers. Schmidt finished the game with two groundballs and a game-high four caused turnovers.

Junior All-American Max Schmidt and junior Ryder Bohlander were also terrific for the Terps at close defense with four groundballs and a caused turnover each. Farrell finished with two groundballs and two caused turnovers, while freshman Jesse Bernhardt had three goundballs and one caused turnover. Phipps was solid in cage for the Terps, stopping 13 shots.

Maryland won the groundball battle over the Tar Heels, 42-33, thanks in large part to winning groundballs in its offensive end of the field. Young finished with five groundballs, while Catalino had four. Gormley and sophomore Joe Cummings each had three groundballs.

The ACC championship game will be televised live by Raycom Sports on Live on Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic and Fox Sports South. The game will be shown on a tape delay on NESN (4/26, 3 p.m.) and Sun Sports (4/26 at 9 p.m.).