Loss to J. Madison women puts UM in NCAA jeopardy

7-time defending champ at 6-6 after 11-10 defeat

April 07, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

HARRISONBURG, Va. - As the clock began to wind down on Maryland's 11-10 loss to James Madison yesterday, the Terrapins women's lacrosse team also may have heard the clock start ticking on its season.

Although the No. 9 Terps led by as many as three goals early, the No. 18 Dukes turned the game around in the second half by dominating possession. When the Terps did win the ball, they often lost their composure, squandering opportunities with hasty shots and ill-timed passes.

Outshot for the first time all season, the Terps managed only two second-half goals.

Kristie Leggio's free-position goal with 3:33 left brought the Terps within 11-10. Maryland then missed three shots in the final two minutes. Kelly Coppedge had the last chance to tie, but her attempt sailed wide with five seconds to go and the sophomore midfielder finished without scoring a point for the first time this season.

At 6-6, with just one win over a team currently ranked higher than 14th, the seven-time defending national champion is now in danger of not making the 16-team NCAA tournament field for the first time since 1989. At least six games remain - including No. 2 Princeton, No. 3 Loyola and a top-six team in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament opener, but the Terps are cutting it close.

"We're flirting with it [not making the tournament cut]," said coach Cindy Timchal, who has gone at least as far as the NCAA quarterfinals in all of her 11 seasons at Maryland. "We had opportunities to the make plays and we just didn't do it in the end. We don't have an answer for that. We're this close to being so good, and we just keep coming up short."

Coming off Wednesday's well-played 10-6 loss to No. 1 Georgetown, the Terps dropped their fourth one-goal game of the season yesterday at JMU Lacrosse Field. Their six losses have come by a total of 10 goals.

"It is frustrating," said Terps senior attack Meredith Egan, who scored three goals yesterday. "The whole team's making mistakes. When we find the right chemistry and we get the flow going, those mistakes won't be so apparent. Everyone makes mistakes; it's just that we usually have more up times than down times."

Early on, it appeared the Terps' fortunes might finally change with a 4-1 lead, but the Dukes began chipping away at that margin en route to their first win over the Terps in 29 tries dating back to 1976.

Lisa Staedt's free-position goal brought the Dukes within 6-5 with 4:24 left in the half. The junior midfielder then hit Jessica Brownridge with a pass from the top of the arc for the tying goal.

The tie lasted only until Egan nailed an eight-meter shot with 12 seconds left, but the 8-7 Terps edge would be short-lived, too. The Dukes (7-6) maintained possession for about nine of the first 10 minutes of the second half and scored three unanswered goals.

Gail Decker scored her third goal of the game on a feed from McNevin Molloy. Molloy then controlled a bobbled ball in traffic and fired it over Terps goalie Alexis Venechanos. Decker fed Jessica Brownridge for another high shot and a 10-8 lead with 20:09 left.

"Obviously, the key is to have possession of the ball, and that comes with the hustle and desire on the draw control," said Dukes coach Jen Ulehla, whose team won 16 of 28 draws. "One of the other things we did very well is once Maryland got possession, we pressured them hard and they made mistakes."

Acacia Walker brought the Terps within 10-9 on only their second shot of the half, but Staedt won a one-on-one challenge and bounced in the game-winner with 10:19 to go.

Maryland 8 2 - 10

James Madison 7 4 - 11

Goals: M-Egan 3, Leggio 2, Judd 2, Hobbs, Collins, Walker; JM-Staedt 3, Decker 3, Dinisio 2, Brownridge 2, Malloy. Assists: M-Hobbs 2, Walker; JM-Staedt 2, Decker, Molloy. Saves: M-Venechanos 9; JM-Altig 9.

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