Top-ranked Terps women turn aside No. 5 UNC, 8-7

Goalie Venechanos withstands pressure


March 05, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Taking over for a three-time All-America goalie, Maryland's Alexis Venechanos has a right to feel the pressure, but the rookie said she doesn't think about all that when the game is on the line.

Yesterday, Venechanos proved she could handle the pressure.

After not making a single save in the first half, she stopped three shots in the final 3:19 to preserve an 8-7 victory over No. 5 North Carolina in ACC women's lacrosse at Ludwig Field.

With 15 seconds left, Venechanos snared Amy Havrilla's low skimming free-position shot and then held onto the ball to run out the clock.

"I just knew I couldn't let the ball in," said the sophomore from Yorktown, N.Y. "I figured if it was going to be a low shot, there'd be a little skip on it, but I was going to do anything I could to make sure the ball didn't go into the net."

Venechanos had seen too many balls go into the net early as the Tar Heels (2-1, 0-1) took a 5-2 lead. The No. 1 and six-time defending national champion Terrapins (2-0, 2-0) hadn't been that far behind since last year's season opener when they had to rally from four down to beat Duke, 14-10.

Still, the Tar Heels knew that Venechanos, following in the footsteps of last year's national Goalie of the Year Alex Kahoe, could step up at any minute.

"We don't really underestimate Maryland anywhere," said North Carolina coach Jenny Slingluff Levy. "Their defense does a good job of protecting [Venechanos] and our shots were rushed at the end. I don't think our quality of shot was that good, not to take anything away from her."

Venechanos made six second-half saves and allowed just two more goals.

After giving up a free-position goal to Christine McPike that tied the game at 7, she held the Tar Heels scoreless through the final 16:27. That gave the attack plenty of time to score the game-winner.

Jen Adams broke the tie with her fifth goal of the game, coming off a pass from Allison Comito behind the net with 7:31 left.

Comito's feed came across a little higher than usual and Adams had to leap, catch and shoot almost in the same instant. Her shot went down into the crease and took a surprisingly big hop off the rain-soaked grass into the net.

"A leap of faith on that one," said Adams. "It was jump and pray."

The Terps maintained their faith in themselves through a tough stretch of the first half when they fell behind 5-2. Their high-powered attack, held to single digits only twice last season, was also slow starting in the cold, rainy conditions. That was due in large part to a hot start by Tar Heels goalie Melissa Coyne, who made nine of her 13 saves in the first half.

After Betsy Gaines, Erin McInnes and Havrilla put together a three-goal Heels spurt, the Terps answered with four straight to end the first half. Adams' breakaway goal on a lead pass from Courtney Hobbs with seven seconds to go provided a 6-5 Terps edge.

In the second half, the Tar Heels caught up twice before Adams scored the decisive goal. With that goal, the two-time national Player of the Year became Maryland's all-time leading goal scorer. Her 188th career goal broke Kelly Amonte's 5-year-old record of 187.

With 15 points in two games, Adams, who already holds every school single-game scoring record, is seven short of Amonte's all-time points record (319).

North Carolina 5 2 - 7

Maryland 6 2 - 8

Goals: NC-McPike 3, Havrilla 2, McInnes, Gaines; M-Adams 5, Hobbs, Carney, Comito. Assists: NC-McInnes 2, Stone; M-Hobbs, Carney, Comito. Saves: NC-Coyne 13; M-Venechanos 6.

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