And then there were two.
The Brown Bears’ run towards the title came to an end off the stick of Maryland’s Colin Heacock minutes into overtime on Saturday in Baltimore, their season concluding one game away from the national championship game with a 15-14 loss.
Dylan Molloy, the nation’s leading scorer and Tewaaraton favorite, suited up despite having foot surgery scheduled for Tuesday. Molloy did not play in the Bears’ quarterfinals game against Navy and was considered extremely doubtful to play in the Final Four contest.
“It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow,” head coach Lars Tiffany said after the game at the post game press conference. “We fought back the whole game. They went up four. We came back. They went up three, we came back. I mean, for me personally, I can’t speak for the other guys, but I was proud. I was upset. I was deranged. It was just an up and down, it was a great game of lacrosse. It was great for the fans to watch. And it was fun playing.”
Brown overcame a four goal deficit in the fourth quarter, after already having to come back early in the first half, to force overtime. The Bears trailed 14-10 with just over 9:30 minutes left in the fourth quarter before going on a 4-0 run, including the game-tying goal with 1:49 left to send the game to overtime.
Brown had an opportunity to close it out in regulation, but Maryland ended up with the final possession. A man was open in front of the crease but an errant pass over his stick rolled out of bounds to end regulation.
The Bears’ Will Gural won the draw, his 20th of the game, but Maryland ripped away possession to open the extra frame. Heacock was found open in front of the net by Matt Rambo and got the ball past Brown goaltender Jack Kelly to propel the Terps to their second straight title game.
Maryland took a 4-1 lead in the first quarter and the Bears battled back to knot it 5-5 by the end of the opening frame. By halftime, it was a 9-8 advantage for the Terps, and no one would separate again until Maryland opened a four goal lead in the fourth.
Brandon Caputo tied the game late, but it was the play of Gural as well to continue to win draws and keep the Bears with the possession. Even when Maryland had the ball late, the Terps had poor shot selection, allowing Brown to get the ball back with a chance to continue to cut the lead.
Brown sees its magical season come to an end after becoming the most dominant offensive teams in college lacrosse. Led by Molloy, who had been in crutches the day before, the Bears will lose the nation’s second leading scorer, Kylor Bellistri, and Bailey Tills to graduation this year.
“It was just definitely really tough to watch all those guys run right by the crease and dogpile number two,” said Tiffany. “It was tough to watch. But hats off to those guys. It must have been a great feeling for them.”
This may have been the best opportunity to bring the title to Brown for the first time in school history, but the Bears ran into the powerhouse that is Maryland, a team that has won 16 straight games.
“This was the way the game that we believe it should be played, and fortunately have the great men,” Tiffany said. “I coach great men. Great, talented men. As you saw, well spoken, representatives, incredible people. This is the style that’s going to define Brown lacrosse and Brown University.”