PHILADELPHIA — Maryland men’s lacrosse coach John Tillman figured Brown would make a run at his team’s 14-10 lead in the final minutes of the NCAA tournament semifinal game Saturday afternoon.

After all, Brown’s offense is the country’s best scoring unit. Midfielder Will Gural had dominated possession at the X in the fourth quarter. The Bears touted senior goalkeeper Jack Kelly as their last line of defense.

And Tillman was right. The Bears won seven draws in the fourth quarter, 11 of Kelly’s 14 saves came in the second half, and Brown scored four unanswered goals in a five-minute stretch to force overtime.

“We were just hoping that maybe we could hold them off,” Tillman said.

With two minutes and 41 seconds left in the game’s first overtime period, the sixth-year coach’s squad put an end to Brown’s surge. Attackman Colin Heacock took a feed from attackman Matt Rambo at the top of the crease and used a series of stick fakes to punch the ball into the net for a 15-14 victory against the No. 5-seed Bears at Lincoln Financial Field.

The score left Heacock under a dog pile behind the cage as the No. 1-seed Terps celebrated a return trip to the national championship, where Maryland fell to Denver last season, one of the program’s three title losses in Tillman’s tenure.

Monday afternoon, the Terps will face North Carolina for a chance to claim their first crown since 1975.

“They showed a lot of heart and just grit today,” Tillman said. “I was very proud of the fact that late in the game when things weren’t going well, the leadership by a lot of our older players, including [Rambo, Heacock and defender Matt Dunn], was very positive.”

The veterans helped power the Terps to a victory in their third straight final four appearance. With about a minute left in regulation, goalkeeper Kyle Bernlohr made his 11th save of the afternoon as he stuffed Brown attackman Bailey Tills on the crease to draw a violation and swing possession.

Tillman didn’t call a timeout with the clock winding down because midfielder Bryan Cole drew a short-stick defensive match-up, and Tillman liked the redshirt senior’s chances of dodging or feeding from behind the net. He didn’t want to give the defense a chance to settle in, either.

But Rambo sailed an attempt wide of the cage, and with 9.7 seconds left, Tillman called for a break. When they emerged from the huddle, the Bears lined up in a zone defense, so the Terps called another timeout to counter the look.

“‘Hey, we’re going to find a way. We’re going to figure it out,'” Tillman said of the squad’s conversations during the breaks with their 15-game winning streak in jeopardy. “Very positive.”

In the waning moments of regulation, Rambo, who finished with a game-high six points, managed to feed the ball from behind the net to attackman Dylan Maltz at the crease, but the ball skipped past the junior and time expired.

“We had to have a zone look and [a man-to-man] look ready, and we tried to find something that might have been workable with both,” Tillman said. “I actually thought Matt got a pretty good look to Dylan inside.”

Dunn ensured the Terps another chance as he collected his third ground ball on the extra period’s only faceoff. Rather than pushing the quick transition, Brown’s attack philosophy, Maryland passed the ball around the offensive third to set a play, one that ended with Heacock’s third goal of the afternoon, and the Terps streaming off the sideline in celebration.

“Every time we kind of had a chance to get together, we took a deep breath and said ‘All right, let’s make the next play,'” Dunn said. “When overtime came around, we kind of tried to erase all the prior events that happened, the momentum, and said ‘We’re going to get this ground ball. We’re going to get this faceoff. We’re going to make the best play we can make.'”

The Terps opened the contest on a roll similar to Brown’s fourth-quarter spurt. Maryland boasted a 4-1 lead on four shots before the first five minutes elapsed. While Brown stormed back to take a 7-5 lead midway through the second period, the Terps defense held the Bears attack, which averaged 16.44 goals entering the contest, scoreless for 21 minutes and 34 seconds before Brown netted a goal with 23 seconds left in the third frame.

Dunn helped the Terps overcome the deficit with his first career goal. Maryland prepared for Brown to sometimes use a 10-player ride, so with six-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, the Towson native took an outlet pass from defender Nick Manis, shuffled his feet and launched a one-bounce shot into the empty net from about 60 yards away.

“I turned around and kind of just saw the open goal and nobody around me,” Dunn said of the score that left a Terps fan shown on the jumbotron lifting her arms in combined confusion and awe. “It just happened to work out.”

The heave tied the game at eight before the Terps entered halftime with a one-goal lead. Maryland built on that momentum to open a four-goal lead late in the third quarter, a gap wide enough to ensure the Bears didn’t take the lead when they managed the late surge Tillman anticipated.

“Maryland did a phenomenal job not letting us get underneath their skin,” Brown coach Lars Tiffany said. “We’re really good at making teams uncomfortable, and while we may have made Maryland a little uncomfortable here and there, they kept their poise.”