The women's lacrosse team at Maryland dropped a one-goal decision to Harvard in last year's NCAA title game, and then lost its leaders. Six seniors -- including several All-Americans -- departed, as did longtime coach Sue Tyler, who became senior associate athletic director.
First-year coach Cindy Timchal has the Terps right back in the Final Four, thanks in part to a trio of senior captains. Broadneck's Leann Shuck and Pikesville's Michele Uhlfelder are Maryland's top point-getters, and Maryvale Prep product Jen Ulehla is the key to the Terps' defense, but Timchal is just as grateful for their off-field contributions.
"Those three definitely helped in the transition to a new coach," said Timchal, who didn't come to College Park until February. "We had a lot of new players out there, and the captains led them on and off the field."
The Final Four is at Trenton State in Ewing, N.J., tomorrow and Sunday. It has been a simple game the last six years, when the champion has been the previous season's runner-up. Maryland (13-2) is all in favor of continuing that pattern.
The Terps face New Hampshire (11-1) at 4 p.m. in tomorrow's semifinals. The 2 p.m. semifinal matches Virginia and Penn State, the only teams that have beaten Maryland, both by a goal. The Nittany Lions have gotten a fine season from Deanna Blood, a junior from Dulaney who has 24 goals and nine as sists. She scored three times in a first-round comeback win over Lafayette.
Sunday's championship is at 3 p.m.
Maryland will be boosted by the return of junior starters Kim Terhorst and Chris Macko. The university suspended the two players after they violated NCAA rules by appearing in an ad for a College Park clothing store. They were reinstated yesterday, after the NCAA ruled the two had made an inadvertent mistake.
* Women's lacrosse is the only sport in which the NCAA championships in Divisions I and III are held at the same site. The Division III semifinals go tomorrow morning at Trenton State, and unbeaten Franklin & Marshall will count on several locals to get past Ursinus, which is seeking its third straight NCAA title.
F&M beat Ursinus for the Middle Atlantic Conference title. The Diplomats' top scorer is Katie Aman, a sophomore midfielder from Notre Dame Prep who has 45 goals and 16 assists. Annemarie Merow, a senior defender from John Carroll, was joined on the MAC East Division all-star team by Aman and Ursinus MVP Amy Ward, a senior from St. Paul's who was recognized as the top defender in the 1990 Final Four.
The MAC West Division all-stars included Washington's Donna White, a senior defender from Overlea, and Western Maryland's Shannon Smith, a junior scorer from Maryvale Prep. Johns Hopkins had four seniors recognized: attacker Katharine Herring, goalie Kristin Cole and defenders Dawn Nee and Jennifer Chun.
* Towson State, champion of the East Coast Conference, will learn its assignment for the NCAA baseball tournament Monday. The 48-team bracket will be announced on ESPN at 1:30 p.m.
The Tigers most likely will stay East; Florida, Florida State and Maine have been named as regional sites. The other regional hosts are Fresno State, Louisiana State, Southern California, Texas and Wichita State.
Towson State was 14-17-1 after a 20-15 loss to Temple April 11, but the Tigers have since gone 13-3.
* The national junior college track and field championships conclude tomorrow at Odessa, Texas, and former Randallstown High standout Jeff Campbell is among the favorites in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. It will be Campbell's final competition for Brevard College. He'll move on to South Alabama in the fall.