Maryland women earn top seed

Defending champs head 12-team NCAA field

Loyola seeded fifth

May 08, 2000|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

There were two newcomers but no surprises when the field for the NCAA National Collegiate Women's Lacrosse Tournament was announced last night.

Five-time defending champion Maryland is seeded first and returns to the tournament for the 11th straight year. Syracuse and Boston University got in for the first time in the history of their young programs.

The 12-team tournament field is identical to the top12 in last week's Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll, although some positions have changed.

"I thought it must have been pretty cut-and-dried to pick the 12 teams," said Loyola coach Diane Geppi-Aikens, whose Greyhounds are seeded fifth.

"I don't think you can question any of those selections, and this might be the first time I've said that, because in the past there have always been one or two [selections] that could have gone either way. I don't think there were any coin tosses in this set up."

While the Terps (18-1) have a first-round bye, the Greyhounds (14-4) will play host to 12th-ranked Delaware Thursday afternoon.

The Greyhounds edged the Blue Hens, 9-8, two weeks ago at Curley Field, but Geppi-Aikens said this will be a whole new ballgame. She said the same about all the rest of the matchups.

"This year, there's more parity in the nation than there has ever been," said Geppi-Aikens. To prove it, she pointed to such upsets as Delaware over No.3 seed James Madison, No.9 Syracuse over No.10 Dartmouth (which had been ranked as high as No.2), Dartmouth over No.2 Princeton, and No.11 Boston University over No.4 North Carolina.

"Anyone can win," said Geppi-Aikens. "Even those new teams, Boston University and Syracuse, are legitimate. It doesn't matter who you play. There are no gimme games."

The Greyhounds are in the tournament for the sixth time in seven years, while the Blue Hens return for the first time since 1984.

Loyola's half of the bracket, however, is also Maryland's. The two, who battled for the title in 1997, could not meet until the semifinals.

In the meantime, the Terps will look for their 14th straight tournament victory on Sunday when they face No.8 Georgetown or Syracuse. Both regular-season games were fairly easy victories for the Terps, 16-6 over Georgetown and 24-11 at Syracuse.

In the quarterfinals last year, the Terps dispatched the Hoyas, 17-6.

Also in the Terps' half of the bracket is North Carolina, the only team to beat Maryland this year and the team responsible for three of Maryland's six losses over the past seven years.

After losing, 14-13, in triple overtime to the Tar Heels in the second game of the season, the Terps came back to beat the Heels, 17-6, in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Maryland won the only NCAA tournament meeting between the two, 14-9, in the 1998 semifinals.

While there were only two automatic qualifiers in DivisionI, Colonial Athletic Association champ Loyola and Ivy League champ Dartmouth, there were 10 in DivisionIII.

Salisbury State earned the fifth seed in the newly expanded 16-team field. The Sea Gulls won one of five bids given to independents or teams in conferences that were too small to qualify for automatic bids.

The Capital Athletic Conference, which the Sea Gulls won, was too small for an automatic bid, but the Gulls' 13-2 record and their No.7 ranking in last week's poll was good enough to put them high in the bracket.

The Sea Gulls reached the second round last year before falling to eventual national champ Middlebury, 16-2. Wednesday, they will play host to Denison (Ohio) in a first-round game.

The College of New Jersey(13-0), which will play host to the national semifinals and finals for both divisions May 19-21, is the top-seeded DivisionIII team.

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