University of Maryland goalie Alex Kahoe won the mental and physical games early yesterday, and then led her teammates to a fourth straight national championship as Maryland defeated Virginia, 11-5, in the Division I finals at UMBC Stadium.
Kahoe, a sophomore from Villanova, Pa., finished with 21 saves, but set the tone early when Virginia dominated the tempo with a relentless attack that fired most of the Cavaliers' 14 first-half shots in the first 10 minutes of the game.
In contrast, Maryland's offense was erratic for most of the first half, and the Terps didn't get a second shot off until there were 20 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half. Thank goodness for Kahoe.
And a book and recent speech from a sports psychologist.
"The speech was about the nervous system not knowing the difference between practice and a game, so you have to prepare for them as one and the same," said Kahoe, a criminal justice and sociology major who wants to one day work for the FBI. "Every game is a big game and this was a huge game for us. I wanted it for the seniors, I wanted to be there for them."
"We had a lot of pressure," said Virginia coach Julie Myers, whose team took 26 shots. "Alex made a couple of key saves early to keep them in the ballgame. Alex came up big. If we can replay a few minutes in that game, it certainly would be that opening."
Kahoe, though, was excellent all the way through. With the score tied at 1-1, Virginia senior midfielder Kara Ariza tried to backhand a shot on a seemingly opened goal with 6: 45 left in the first half from the top of the crease, but it was Kahoe who blocked the shot.
When midfielder Jessica Hull caught the carom and Kahoe out of position, Kahoe bounced back to stop the return shot with her stick handle. She finished the half by intercepting a Virginia pass with 17 seconds remaining.
"To be a championship team, you have to have a great goalie, a great defense in front of them, a great midfield in front of them and a great attack in front of them," said Maryland head coach Cindy Timchal. "Alex really worked diligently to be in this position. Everyone has their big moments; she stepped up in this situation."
By midway through the second half, Maryland's offense had kicked into high gear, and then Kahoe finished as strong as she started. She stopped a free-position shot by freshman Lacey Aumiller with 18: 27 left in the game, then closed off the inside of the goal to stop a shot by midfielder Jamie Haas about six minutes later.
Then with 3: 14 left in the game and Maryland ahead 9-5, Ariza had a free-position chance but Kahoe snuffed her again.
Kahoe said: "It's impossible to stop everything, that's not realistic. I knew their coach was going to tell them to keep shooting on me because sooner or later they've got to fall."
Maybe next year. Kahoe was just too good yesterday.
Pub Date: 5/18/98