UNC women reach top vs. Terps

Heels take ACC crown in hard-fought 11-10 win

McPike scores five goals

College Lacrosse

April 22, 2002|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

DURHAM, N.C. - Using this season as a gauge, North Carolina's 11-10 victory over Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference women's lacrosse tournament final yesterday was no big deal.

The Tar Heels are ranked fourth in the nation. No. 12 Maryland lost its seventh game, and for the second time to North Carolina. Coach Jenny Slingluff Levy, however, looked at the big picture, with justification. When the Terps began their run of seven straight NCAA championships in 1995, North Carolina was playing the game on the club level.

"Some of those club players helped us get the program started, and there was help from Title IX," Slingluff Levy said. "These guys have benefited from all of the previous hard work that went into this program. I'm happy to see them do this."

Slingluff Levy, a 1988 graduate of Roland Park Country School who played at Virginia, got the sport going in Chapel Hill with a 12-4 record in 1996. Her worst record came in 1999, when her current seniors were freshmen. Most prominent has been Christine McPike, who had five goals and added tournament Most Valuable Player honors to her conference Player of the Year award.

"She's awesome, a great player with a high level of intensity," Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said. "It's not fun [to lose], but it's great to see Carolina, honestly, win it."

Maryland (9-7) had won four of the previous five ACC tournaments. Its only loss was to North Carolina in the 1998 semifinals. The Terps went 0-3 in the ACC, but the other two losses were by a goal, and Maryland avenged one of them in Friday's semifinals, when it beat top-seeded and No. 3 Virginia, 15-12.

With five freshmen in the starting lineup yesterday at Duke's Koskinen Stadium, Maryland is going to follow some good games with bad, and the Terps let down late in the first half, when McPike sparked a five-goal run that gave the Tar Heels (13-2) a 7-2 lead. Her last goal of the game gave them an 11-7 cushion with 8:11 left.

That score remained heading into the last three minutes, when Maryland freshmen scored three times in 1:42 to throw a serious scare into North Carolina. Kelly Coppedge, of St. Mary's in Annapolis, started the run by feeding classmate Kristie Leggio. Acacia Walker scored, and Coppedge followed with 46 seconds left.

Maryland won the draw and had a two-on-one break, but Meghan Kelly, a sophomore defender out of Roland Park, stripped All-ACC attacker Courtney Hobbs and the Terps never got off a shot that would have forced overtime.

"There was no panic or uneasiness at the end; we just needed to go harder," said Kellie Thompson, a senior midfielder out of Roland Park. "This is one of the things that we wanted to accomplish this season."

Coppedge, Maryland's leading scorer, had three goals. Hobbs and Leggio had two apiece. Thompson had three goals for North Carolina, which broke a 2-2 tie with its five-goal run and forged the biggest lead of the game with 3:29 left in the first half, when McPike had personally doubled Maryland's goal total.

"We anticipated a tough game," Slingluff Levy said. "Maryland is going to be a big-time contender in the NCAA tournament."

North Carolina 8 3 - 11

Maryland 4 6 - 10

Goals: M-Coppedge 3, Hobbs 2, Leggio 2, Walker 2, Robinson; NC-McPike 5, Thompson 3, McInnes, Stone, Szakmary. Assists: M-Coppedge, Egan, Judd 1; NC-Stone 2, Higgins 1. Saves: NC-Hoffman 4; M-Venechanos 11.

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