EWING TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Michelle Uhlfelder, a senior from Pikesville, scored off the opening draw of the overtime period, and the University of Maryland protected the advantage for a 4-3 victory over New Hampshire in the semifinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I women's lacrosse tournament yesterday.
A crowd of 1,700 at Lions Stadium on the Trenton State Colleg campus, saw the lowest-scoring game in championship history (the previous low mark was New Hampshire's 6-2 win over Northeastern in 1984).
In the process, Maryland (14-2) reached the championship gam for an unprecedented fifth time in the event's 10-year history.
The Terps will play Atlantic Coast Conference rival and No 1-ranked Virginia for the title today at 3 p.m. A solid defense and junior Jenny Slingluff's (Roland Park) five goals and two assists helped the Cavaliers dispose of Penn State, 10-5.
"Draw possessions are critical in a tight game, we didn't get a many as we would have liked, and at the end, the one we didn't want to get it got it," New Hampshire coach Marjorie Anderson said of Uhlfelder's effort.
The goal came 17 seconds into the first of two three-minut overtime periods.
Of the play, Uhlfelder said, "I was in good position off the draw, don't know what happened to the girl on me [Uhlfelder simply beat her], and once past her, I saw the opening." Maryland dominated the first half, outshooting New Hampshire, 17-8, to open a 3-1 lead by halftime -- the last goal coming on a free-position shot from about 25 feet by Leann Shuck (Broadneck) with two seconds left.
"I own that spot. No way I was going to miss that one. That's m hash," Shuck said.
New Hampshire (11-2), with a change in its attacking patterns, scored two second-half goals, one by Kierstin Coppola, to tie the game at 3 with three minutes left in regulation.
"We wanted to spread things out and isolate from up high [rathe than close to the crease]," Anderson said.
Maryland had a chance to score in the closing 30 seconds o regulation, but Betsy Elder's shot deflected off goalkeeper Christa Hansen and off a goal post.
"We shut them off running to the goal, as our defense wa outstanding, especially Mandy [sophomore goalie Mandy Stevenson] and Jen [senior Jennifer Ulehla from Maryvale]," said first-year Maryland coach Cindy Timchal.
In the other semifinal, Virginia (16-1) atoned for its only regular-season loss (10-9 in the rain at Charlottesville, Va.) by dominating Penn State (14-4). It was the first Virginia win in the series between the teams, snapping a string of 10 straight losses.
Virginia gained a psychological edge when it scored in th opening minute of the second half for a 4-2 margin. The Cavaliers then wrapped it up with a three-goal barrage within 49 seconds for a 9-4 cushion midway through the half.
"We came out in the second half and that goal enabled us to g up-tempo on offense and we just kept doing the things that got us the lead," Virginia coach Jane Miller said.
"In the first half, we were too nervous," Slingluff said of he school's first win on its third trip to the national semifinals. "By the second half, we had calmed down."
Junior Elaine Jones (Friends) thought there was a lot more spac in which to challenge Penn State in the second half. "We thought we should have beaten them the first time, too, so there was some motivation," she said.
In the regular-season meeting, Penn State rallied from a 4- deficit to get the win, an occasion that prompted Miller to say, "We emphasized taking away their [scoring] runs. We knew they'd score, but we wanted to come right back and score, or at least get a good shot."