FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Denver lacrosse team won’t soon forget maybe the most painful crease violation in school history.
Midfielder Connor Donahue appeared to have scored with 9.2 seconds left in regulation of Saturday’s NCAA Tournament semifinals, but officials ruled he landed in the crease and the fifth-seeded Pioneers were left with a 9-8 loss before 30,530 at Gillette Stadium.
Ethan Walker and Nate Marano scored twice and Alex Ready made 12 saves for Denver (13-3). Connor Kelly scored three times for the Terrapins (14-3), who became the first team to beat the Pioneers while scoring less than 10 goals since Syracuse did so in the 2013 NCAA semifinals.
Maryland will meet third-seeded Ohio State in Monday’s title game. The Buckeyes (16-4) defeated Towson 11-10 in the first semifinal.
Both teams took a patient approach to the game, and neither surpassed 25 possessions for the contest. Unlike most of its games this season, Denver did not dominate faceoffs, with Tewaaraton finalist Trevor Baptiste winning 11-of-21 draws.
The Terps built a 7-4 lead in the third quarter, but Denver scrambled back into it and tied it 8-8 with 10 minutes left when Donahue deposited an Austin French assist.
But Maryland won the next faceoff, setting up a Kelly cannon from the outside with 8:41 to go.
The Terps nearly sealed it when Colin Heacock appeared to have scored with 1:28 to go, but that goal also was disallowed by a crease violation. Denver cleared and called timeout, setting up an excruciating finish to a season that saw the Pioneers return to the tournament’s championship weekend after a one-year hiatus.
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