Maryland women cope with being back in pack

NCAA berth no sure thing for long-dominant Terps

College Lacrosse

April 19, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

For the last seven years, Maryland's women's lacrosse team has managed to put a positive spin on every little setback.

Coaches and players talked about playing for yourself and playing for your teammates, staying in the moment and not looking ahead, performing to the best of your ability and being satisfied with the result, win or lose.

Of course, that's not hard to do when you're winning nearly every game and rolling up seven straight national titles.

What happens when the losses start to pile up and the wins don't come so easily? What happens when you get swept in the Atlantic Coast Conference and end up seeded last for the tournament? What happens when you slip to 6-6 and drop from No. 1 to No. 13?

How do you put a positive spin on that?

"It was difficult because it's so easy to put your head down," said senior Meredith Egan, "but if you just think twice, it's not the end of the world."

Heading into today's ACC tournament at Duke's Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C., the defending champions come off their most encouraging week yet.

Wins over William and Mary, 21-11, and No. 17 Johns Hopkins, 13-8, boosted their record to 8-6. They also boosted the Terps' confidence heading into today's 1 p.m. match with top-seeded Virginia (11-2, 3-0 ACC).

The No. 12 Terps are aware that the teams waiting in the wings - No. 3 Virginia and, after the tournament, No. 2 Princeton and No. 6 Loyola - present a more difficult challenge than last week's opponents.

They also know beating at least one of them might be necessary to secure an NCAA tournament berth.

Most opposing coaches give two primary reasons for the Terps' tumble:

"Maryland is a little young, and there are just that many great players and great programs in the college game that it's hard to keep winning the way they were," said Virginia coach Julie Myers.

The Terps graduated five All-Americans from last year's team. In addition to Jen Adams, the three-time national Player of the Year, they also lost Quinn Carney, the key to their overwhelming possession game, and defender Courtney Martinez, the MVP of the NCAA final.

Throughout the Terps' title run, they always returned at least a couple of All-Americans to smooth the transition from year to year. This time, Maryland did not return any All-Americans and had to replace eight starters.

Although the Terps' record doesn't look so hot compared with last season's 23-0, the team has not fallen that far in the goal count. Their six losses have come by a total of 10 goals. They lost four games by a single goal, including a 17-16 loss to Virginia in which they trailed by nine goals early in the second half.

"We keep saying we have a great team," said Terps coach Cindy Timchal.

"Four of our six games, we've lost by one goal and, last year, we won six games by one goal. Maybe the ball didn't bounce our way those games, but we have so much faith in this team and how they've overcome a lot of adversity and struggled back from being behind. We've gone through a lot and that's pulled us together."

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