Delaware was supposed to be the calm before the storms for the fourth-ranked Loyola College women's lacrosse team yesterday at Curley Field.
The storms are headed to town during the next seven days in the form of top-ranked Virginia on Tuesday and third-ranked Maryland next Sunday.
And sure enough, Loyola needed to be jolted back to reality by coach Diane Aikens yesterday during a first-half timeout after 14th-ranked Delaware scored the first four goals of the game before falling to the Greyhounds, 10-8, in a tight duel that wasn't decided until the final minutes.
Loyola (12-1) has won 11 straight, the longest winning streak in Division I women's lacrosse.
"Coach Aikens gave us a choice," said senior Loyola midfielder Erin Wylde. "She told us we could either give up now and lose this game or stay composed and show a lot of heart and soul and come back and win."
Aikens, the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association National Coach of the Year the past two seasons, had pushed the right button again.
Wylde and her Loyola teammates immediately began looking like a different team against the upset-minded Blue Hens (11-4), who were playing for a berth in the 12-team National Collegiate Women's Lacrosse championships.
Wylde was all over the field, picking up ground balls, dashing through defenders, intercepting passes, even finding time to score a goal in a balanced attack in which nine players scored.
By halftime, Loyola had cut the 4-0 deficit to 5-3, and the Greyhounds surged ahead 7-6 with 15: 22 left in the game.
Junior attacker Kathleen O'Shea scored twice on free-position shots in the second half for Loyola, with the second one producing the 7-6 lead. O'Shea was the only Loyola player to score twice, and she added an assist.
Delaware would not go away, bouncing right back for a tie at 7.
Loyola answered with beautiful goals by Stephanie Sweet and Megan Santacroce for a 9-7 lead with 7: 12 remaining.
"This was the best Delaware team I've seen," Aikens said. "They are fast, athletic and aggressive and needed a win to make the playoffs. I had to give our players a little reminder of where we stood during that timeout. For us, it's all fun from now on. We're in the playoffs and have a chance to play Virginia and Maryland on our home field this week."
Pub Date: 4/26/98