COLLEGE PARK -- What makes this year's North Carolina women's soccer squad special is that six of its 11 starters are underclassmen and it still intimidates opponents into making freshman mistakes.
Capitalizing on crucial Maryland errors, the top-ranked and nine-time defending national champion Tar Heels defeated the No. 13 Terps, 3-0, before 1,529 at Ludwig Field yesterday.
"I'm pleased with our play in the last 70 minutes," Terps coach April Heinrichs said. "We still have a couple of players who play not to make mistakes and not to lose. That's the wrong mentality to have. And after we fall behind, we begin to play because they say, 'What do we have to lose now?' "
The most costly error occurred midway through the first half, when Maryland freshman goalkeeper Kassie Knecht attempted to clear a ball at the top of the box. Her pass fell onto the feet of North Carolina's Robin Confer, whose shot deflected off Knecht and then slowly rolled 20 yards into the open net.
"That's something I always do," said Knecht, who went on to make three saves. "It was just unlucky that a Carolina girl was there to grab it."
The Tar Heels (20-0), who have won 30 straight and outscored their opponents, 86-5, this year, increased their lead to 2-0 after Cindy Parlow maneuvered around a slow-reacting Maryland defense and converted an uncontested shot at the goal.
"We can't play in awe of Carolina," Heinrichs said. "When you give them two or three feet, they make something happen. They're too good to let that happen."
It was an unfitting end to the regular season for the Terps (15-4), who had won all 10 of their previous games at Ludwig and had established records of single-season victories, shutouts and ACC wins while being ranked every week this season.
After trailing 2-0, the Terps started to revert to form by attacking, but couldn't convert two key direct kicks and four corners in the second half.
"This has been a skyrocketing improvement," said North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance of Maryland. "In my mind, we struggled against their style. Even holding a 2-0 lead at halftime, I never felt confident."
!Spirit 21, Blizzard 14
Last game: Mike Stankovic scored a hat trick Saturday night as the Spirit raised its career record against Buffalo at the Baltimore Arena to 9-1. After building an 11-5 halftime lead, the Spirit let Buffalo inch within two points, then pulled away late in the final period as Kevin Sloan scored two goals within 20 seconds.
What's ahead: Former Spirit coach Kenny Cooper will bring his expansion Tampa Bay Terror to the Arena on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay will entertain the Cleveland Crunch on Friday. Injuries: Buffalo's Marco Rizi broke his leg in two places in a collision with the Spirit's Ronald Simmons and will undergo surgery, finishing him for the season. Spirit goalie Cris Vaccaro probably will miss his third straight game with an arm injury and forward Brad Smith (sprained knee) and defender Omid Namazi (sprained ankle) are doubtful against Tampa Bay.
They said it: "That's indoor soccer," said Spirit vice president Drew Forrester, referring to the drought between the Spirit's fast start and fast finish Saturday night.