Terps getting winning marks Lacrosse record: Maryland women seek to break national mark of 29 consecutive victories with a win today vs. Loyola.

April 23, 1996

The score and the streak.

That's the two-tier question the Maryland women's lacrosse team runs into the day after a game. Students stop the Terps around campus and ask only for the score of the game and the updated total of consecutive wins.

There's never a doubt about the outcome. A victory always is assumed since Maryland has reeled off 29 in a row and hasn't lost in the regular season since March 23, 1993, a span of 49 games.

Top-ranked Maryland (12-0) shoots to break the national record of 29 straight first set by Temple 11 years ago when the Terps play at No. 2 Loyola (13-0) today at 4 p.m. The Greyhounds hold the second-longest current winning stretch with 13.

"The streak shows the payoff if you work real hard to get to the next level," Maryland senior Liz Downing said. "It's a standard that moves us along the road. But now it's like everyone expects us to win. It's kind of tough to put it in perspective when you think of it that way."

The Terps, who lost just one starter from last year's national championship team, are on the verge of establishing themselves in women's lacrosse history.

Not only is Maryland attempting to become the first back-to-back national champion in Division I women's lacrosse, but the Terps could complete consecutive undefeated NCAA championship seasons. Just two teams before last year had gone unbeaten in a single season to win the national title in the tournament's 17-year history.

That long-term focus has propelled Maryland to lead the country in scoring offense (16.3), scoring defense (2.6) and margin of victory (13.7).

Another national title could elevate the Terps as the program of the decade. Maryland, which is the first school to win three national championships, is the only team to win more than 90 percent of its games in the '90s, losing eight games in seven years.

"I think if we could have a crystal ball and see that we did repeat that this team would rank right up there [in history]," Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said. "We can't try to repeat what we did last year; we needed to re-create something for ourselves. We knew coming into this year if we could keep our players motivated, then we could keep getting better."

The motivation at Maryland is embedded in two-time first-team All-American Kelly Amonte, the most dominating player in the game. She holds the school marks for career goals and assists and has outscored the opposition this season, 43-31.

While Amonte grabs most of the headlines, a third of the Terps' remaining starting cast are returning All-Americans who spread their talents across the field.

Karen MacCrate breaks down defenses with her ability to pass as well as shoot, and Sarah Forbes unleashes possibly the hardest shot in the region. On the defensive end, Downing is Maryland's top defender and Jamie Brodsky provides solid goaltending.

"I really feel bad at times because when I look at our team, there are so many great players," Amonte said. "But I kind of overshadow that. This team isn't about one player. It's about everyone stepping up."

It's not surprising how cohesive the Terps are, considering that nine of the 12 starters have played side-by-side for the past three seasons. Maryland prides itself on team defense, sliding and crashing down on opponents to force turnovers.

Then the Terps shift into their fast-break attack, which blends superior speed with fancy stickwork. Maryland's arsenal includes long outlet passes, length-of-the-field drives and quick touch passes in transition.

"Our success is really about getting everyone involved in the game," said assistant coach Gary Gait, who starred at Syracuse and was the men's Division I Outstanding Player in 1988 and 1990. "We are always attacking and moving the ball. We'll have 11 options on the fast break rather than most teams who have four or five."

With that game plan, the most difficult position to play at Maryland is goalkeeper. Because the Terps employ an aggressive, take-away style, Brodsky sees an average of only 10 shots on goal per game which leaves little room for error.

"It's extremely hard to stay focused," said Brodsky, who is 40-1 as a three-year starter. "With other teams, I would get to look at a lot of shots. In that sense, it's mostly a mental game for me now."

A mental game is what Loyola coach Diane Aikens looks to avoid. Although Maryland easily has defeated seven ranked teams this season and beaten the Greyhounds in all 15 meetings, Loyola presents the biggest challenge for the Terps.

The Greyhounds have a quick turnaround after playing games on Saturday and Sunday. While Maryland has had a 10-day layoff, Loyola will be playing its third game in four days.

"Most teams that walk on the field against Maryland, walk on afraid," said Aikens, whose Greyhounds won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament title on Sunday. "We're not walking on that field scared. We think we can beat Maryland. When a team doesn't fear you, that says something. We have potential that we haven't tapped yet."

Best of the '90s

The winningest Division I women's lacrosse programs of the 1990s:

Team .. .. .. .. Record .. .. Pct. .. NCAA

.. . .. .. .. .. .. .. ... .. .. . .. titles

Maryland . .. .. 96-8 . .. .. .923 .. .. 2

Princeton ... . 92-20 . .. .. .821 .. .. 1

Virginia . .. . 87-23 . .. .. .790 .. .. 2

Harvard .. .. . 75-22 . .. .. .773 .. .. 1

Loyola ... .. . 84-31 . .. .. .730 .. .. 0

Pub Date: 4/23/96

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