COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland women's soccer team did not fall short yesterday in its NCAA tournament first-round game so much as it was finally worn down, tired from playing one of the nation's toughest schedules and struggling to overcome key injuries.
As a result, George Mason stunned the eighth-seeded Terps, 2-1, at Ludwig Field.
The Terps were without their second-leading scorer, Emmy Harbo, sidelined by a knee injury she suffered in last weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, and Maryland was also hindered by an injury to senior forward Michelle Deville.
And Maryland was facing a George Mason team seeking redemption -- the Terps beat George Mason, 3-0, in September -- and the Patriots found it in the 80th minute. That's when sophomore Faith Klapinski converted off a pass from Julie Ames to score for the Patriots (14-5-4).
"This is just an incredible feeling, I can't even describe it," said Klapinski, who played only 12 games during the regular season and had no goals or assists and took just two shots.
Ames set up the decisive goal with a crossing pass that hit the underside of the crossbar and caromed to an unmarked Klapinski.
The Terps (12-9-3) had tied the game at 1-1 just 1: 41 earlier, when forward Keri Sarver beat George Mason goalkeeper Jamie Pagliarulo with a low shot to the right.
"After I scored, I looked at the clock and knew there was time to get another," Sarver said. "And I felt we could pull off a win."
Said Maryland coach Alan Kirkup: "We went from an emotional high with Keri's goal to a letdown like that with just a few minutes to go. That's going to be difficult to come back from."
Without Harbo, the Terps struggled to find any flow offensively until early in the second half, as George Mason devoted its energies to stopping Sarver, the Terps' leading scorer with 15 goals.
"With our injuries, we juggled our lineup the last half the season and I don't think we had the same group on the field twice during that time," Kirkup said. "We had a week to prepare for this game, and we didn't do a very good job of it in the first 45 minutes. And in the end that's what beat us."
Goals: GM--Klapinski, Eubank; UM--Sarver. Assists: GM--Ames; UM--McCullough. Saves: GM--Pagliarulo 4; UM--Wolff 8. Half: George Mason 1-0.
Pub Date: 11/17/97