October 18, 2013

Best of Lacrosse: Best Game Finalists

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

There are a ton of games every year, but only a handful stick in your mind, causing you to have spontaneous recollection of moments weeks or months down the road, reminiscing with your friends about a key turnover or a game-changing strip by an LSM. These five were the cream of this year's crop, but which was the #bestoflax in 2013?

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Best Game Finalists

UNC vs. Maryland (NCAA Women's Final)

North Carolina won its first championship by sudden victory, when freshman attacker Sammy Jo Tracy in the third overtime period to lift the Tar Heels to a 13-12 win over Maryland before 9.391 fans at Villanova Stadium. The Tar Heels led 9-6 at the half, but Maryland scored five goals in 11 minutes during the second half to take an 11-9 lead. UNC answered with three straight to go up 12-11. Maryland's Alex Aust tied the game at 12-12 with 3:51. In the final minutes of regulation and then the multiple overtimes, both Tar Heel goalie Megan Ward and Terp goalie Kasey Howard made big stops to keep the score flat. Tracy's fast-break game-winner, made on a Brittney Coppa assist on a possession that began with a monster save by Ward, finally ended the longest women's lacrosse championship game in NCAA history.

-Clare Lochary

Canada vs. Australia (World Cup Prelim)

Canada beat Australia in FIL competition for the first time in dramatic fashion before a large home crowd. The Canadians scored the first two goals of the game, but by halftime, they were trailing, 7-6. They rallied in the second half to take a 11-10 lead. Australian attacker Hannah Nielsen tied the game with 4:36 to go, and Australia won the ensuing draw. Then Canadian goalie Katie Donohoe made a doorstop save and set up Crysti Foote for the game-winner. Canada prevailed, 12-11, and went on to win its first silver medal later in the tournament.


Detroit vs. Notre Dame (NCAA Men's 1st Rd)

Making it to the NCAA tournament at all was a big step for Detroit, which played three straight do-or-die games to earn a spot against No. 2 seed Notre Dame. The Titans had to win their regular season finale against Canisius, then win two games against higher-seeded Marist and Siena in the MAAC tournament, so when they got to South Bend, they were ready to play for their lives right out of the gate. Winning six of the first seven face-offs and taking the ground ball battle by an 18-8 margin in the first half, Detroit jumped out to a 5-1 lead at the half, stunning the host Irish and presumably many of the fans watching live on ESPNU. But Notre Dame wasn't down or the count, treading water by equalling Detroit's two third-quarter goals, then storming back in the fourth with six straight scores, with Matt Kavanagh potting the first on the run, then both the game-tying and go-ahead goals. Ryan Foley added an insurance tally with two minutes remaining, and the Irish lived to fight another day.

Duke vs. Cornell (NCAA Men's Semifinal)

This national semifinal in at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia had drama and great play. Cornell entered with the great scoring combination of Rob Pannell and Steve Mock. Duke was playing in its seventh straight final four under coach John Danowski. For nearly three quarters, Duke's defense shut down the Big Red machine, but an eight-goal lead nearly slipped away midway through the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils got a huge, late goal from senior midfielder David Lawson and Duke survived a furious Cornell comeback to win 16-14. The Blue Devils beat Syracuse for the national title two days later. With seven points in the semifinal loss, Pannell set the NCAA all-time scoring mark, breaking the record of Matt Danowski, who stood on the sideline as a Duke assistant coach. Nine different players scored for the Blue Devils and goalie Kyle Turri had a career-high 16 saves.

-Corey McLaughlin

RIT vs. Cortland (Men's D-III Semifinal)

An entertaining back-and forth matchup between two upstate N.Y. powers, this one had a bit of everything. Fast-break offense? Check. A big come-back by the unbeaten and top-ranked team? Check. A coast-to-coast goalie clear and feed for a goal? Check. And to top it all off, the Tigers won the whole thing on a hidden ball trick. Allister Warren scored the final tally, faking a pass to Taylor Wisman, who went hard to the goal and drew the defense, giving Warren the easy shot with nobody looking to send RIT to its first-ever NCAA finals.

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