North Carolina sophomore attacker Chris Cloutier became the record-holder for goals in an NCAA tournament game, and the Tar Heels became the lacrosse national champions after defeating the Maryland Terrapins 14-13 in overtime in Philadelphia on Monday.

North Carolina Defeats Maryland 14-13 In OT To Win NCAA Lacrosse Championship

The Tar Heels are now the first unseeded team to win a national title in 43 years; this was North Carolina’s first national championship in 25 years. They suffered a stinging loss to Hofstra on Feb. 20.

“Pressure is a funny thing,” head coach Joe Breschi said. “We had zero pressure. We were picked the lowest we’ve ever been picked in the eight years since I’ve been here and last in the ACC, and these guys were on a mission.”

Despite the Tar Heels’ struggles in recent years, however, Maryland’s seemed to be far worse. The Terrapins, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA lacrosse tournament, have not won a national title in 41 years and breezed their way to the championship final.

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter!

A week of sports news in your in-box.
We find the sports news you need to know, so you don't have to.

When the Tar Heels’ Luke Goldstock was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty after he and Maryland defender Mike McCarney exchanged shoves with seconds left in regulation, there seemed to be a shred of hope in the air for the Terrapins as they headed into overtime with a man advantage.

Unfortunately, the Terps missed their best opportunity after Connor Kelly’s shot from wide was stopped by North Carolina goalie Brian Balkam.

Just minutes later, McCarney, who was not penalized despite pushing Goldstock earlier, was sent to the box for a one-minute slashing penalty following a scrum in front of Maryland’s goal.

Twenty-four seconds after that, Cloutier fired his shot from the right and into the net. Cloutier, who scored the same number of goals (19) in his last four NCAA games as he did in the previous 14 games combined, momentarily appeared shocked by his goal.

“Coach Metz told me he’d have my back,” the Canadian sophomore said about UNC assistant coach Dave Metzbower, who helped push him to his full capacity. “He did. He never gave up on me, and I’ll never forget him for that.”

Later, after the trophy presentation and the chaos subsided, players dropped onto the ground and made turf angels, while others walked around shouting, almost in disbelief, “We’re the champions of the world.”

“We’re national champions,” Breschi said. “Can you believe it?”

While the Tar Heels tossed aside their shoulder pads, helmets, and sticks in celebration following Cloutier’s goal, Maryland’s players seemed to hunch over as if in pain as they witnessed yet another national title stripped from their grasp. Some Terrapins fell to the ground right at the spot where they were standing; others grieved together behind the net.

“We’ve got to take care of each other,” said Maryland coach John Tillman, himself winless in four tries as Maryland’s head coach. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are hurt, and they’re looking to me. As any parent knows, there are times you just want to make it better and you can’t. You can’t make it better.”

Breschi can certainly relate to that feeling of helplessness. Just last year, the third-seeded Tar Heels lost to Maryland in the quarterfinals. And yet, Breschi has been through far worse. In 2004, when Breschi was head coach at Ohio State, his 3-year-old son, Michael, was killed in the parking lot of his daycare center. Last weekend, the Tar Heels played their quarterfinal games in Columbus, the players dedicating the games to Michael Breschi. Coach Breschi also has four daughters.

The players said then and reiterated on Monday that their coach has been their inspiration, but the coach has received just as much as he’s given.

Breschi said that up until Saturday night, he was struggling to come up with inspiration for his pre-game speech. Having been born and raised in Baltimore, the coach is a die-hard Ravens fan, so he ultimately chose that.

“They kicked the door down in the Super Bowl,” Breschi told his team, “and I said, ‘That’s going to be you today.'”

The message appears to have worked, giving the Tar Heels just the motivation they needed for a crucial game.

PHOTO: PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 30: The North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after defeating the Maryland Terrapins in overtime in the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship at Lincoln Financial Field on May 30, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Tar Heels defeated the Terrapins 14-13. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Read more about:

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Listen to the uInterview Podcast!
Get the most-revealing celebrity conversations with the uInterview podcast!