Loyola hoping numbers do lie in CAA tournament

Women's notebook

April 19, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

At this weekend's Colonial Athletic Association women's lacrosse tournament, No. 2 Loyola will be out to change a pattern that has developed in recent years.

The defending champion Greyhounds have met James Madison in four straight CAA finals, alternating titles since 1997.

This being an odd-numbered year would seem to be James Madison's turn, but the No. 13 Dukes (7-6) faded to 3-3 in the conference as the Greyhounds (11-1) swept all six opponents, outscoring them by an average of 13.7-6.

Still, Loyola coach Diane Geppi-Aikens expects a battle, especially with an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on the line.

"This time of year is dangerous," said Geppi-Aikens, "because teams have gotten better over the last couple of weeks. There's a lot more riding on this than ever in the past. Last year, both of us were going to get into the [NCAA] tournament, but right now it's crazy out there and nobody's guaranteed to get in. They're all looking to get that automatic bid."

The Dukes are seeded third behind No. 8 William & Mary (7-5, 5-1 CAA). Those two meet Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Cary Street Field in Richmond after the Greyhounds play the winner of tomorrow night's No. 14 Old Dominion-No. 17 George Mason game. The title game is Sunday at 1 p.m.

"They are all quality teams and if you look at the CAA, everybody's been beating everybody, so there's a lot of room for upsets. We better not look past to Sunday until we win on Saturday," said Geppi-Aikens, whose team earned the first automatic bid in NCAA women's lacrosse history last season with a 12-10 victory over the Dukes.

The Greyhounds pulled another comeback in their regular-season meeting with the Dukes March 21 at Curley Field, turning an early 3-1 deficit into a convincing 11-4 victory.

The CAA's top scorer and best goalie are both at Loyola. Stacey Morlang has 57 points, including 39 goals. Tricia Dabrowski boasts a 6.02 goals-against average while her nearest rival has allowed 51 more goals.

Terps go for 4th ACC title

In its quest for a fourth Atlantic Coast Conference title in the five-year history of the tournament, No. 1 Maryland could face the two teams it had the most trouble with this season - No. 6 North Carolina and No. 9 Virginia.

Both times, the defending champion Terrapins pulled out 8-7 victories.

Still, the regular season is not always a harbinger of things to come in the ACC tournament, which includes too few teams to give the winner an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Last season, the Terps lost to North Carolina, 14-13, in triple overtime during the regular season and then clobbered them, 17-6, in the ACC final.

The Terps (13-0, 3-0 ACC), two-time defending ACC champs and six-time defending national champs, open against Virginia (8-5, 0-3) tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. North Carolina (9-4, 1-2) faces No. 4 Duke (11-2, 2-1) at 3:30 with the winners squaring off Sunday at noon.

Meeting the Cavaliers in the semifinal is no picnic. While the Terps have won 14 straight games, including two national titles, from the Cavaliers and haven't lost to them since 1993, Virginia has given the Terps fits in their last two meetings.

Both times - in last year's ACC semifinal (8-6) and earlier this season (8-7) - the Cavaliers' defense managed to stall the Terps high-scoring attack. On March 14 in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers did everything but win, controlling 11 of 17 draws, maintaining possession for long stretches of time and outshooting the Terps, 22-20.

"We know a lot of teams are going to have that mentality with us this year - the less we have [the ball], the less dangerous we are," said Terps senior midfielder Quinn Carney after that game.

Two of the main reasons the Terps are averaging a conference-best 15.69 goals a game are two-time national Player of the Year Jen Adams and fellow All-American Allison Comito, the ACC's top two point-getters. Adams leads the ACC in all scoring categories, averaging 7.31 points, while Comito averages 3.92 points.

North Carolina's Kellie Thompson (St. Mary's) and Virginia's Lauren Aumiller (Notre Dame Prep) are tied for third, contributing 3.54 points each.

The Terps also pace the conference in team defense, allowing just 6.15 goals per game. Duke isn't far behind at 6.46, thanks to the ACC's leading goalie Kristen Foster (Mount Hebron), with a 6.43 goals-against average and a .590 save percentage.

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