Women's tourney features local rivalry: UM vs. Loyola

7-time defending champs visit 'Hounds on Thursday

College Lacrosse

May 06, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

The NCAA Division I women's lacrosse tournament begins Thursday with a local showdown that's as big as it gets - Maryland at Loyola.

The two will meet Thursday afternoon at Curley Field as Maryland tries to extend its run of national titles to eight straight. The Greyhounds, who play host to the national semifinals and final on May 17 and 19, already have one win against the Terps this season, 7-4 on April 27.

Neither team, however, was among the top four seeds.

Georgetown, which fell to Maryland in sudden-death overtime in last year's final, claimed the No. 1 seed and was followed by Princeton, North Carolina and Cornell. The rest of the teams were placed in the bracket on the basis of strength and location as the tournament committee tried to keep teams from traveling long distances.

UMBC, an automatic qualifier through the Northeast Conference championship, does have some distance to cover, heading to North Carolina in the Retrievers' first trip to the tournament.

Maryland, in its 13th straight tournament, and Loyola, in its sixth, have played twice in the tournament during the past five years, most recently in the semifinals two years ago. They played in the 1997 final, with Maryland avenging its regular-season loss.

When Loyola's team heard that it had drawn Maryland, a cheer went up around the room, but coach Diane Geppi-Aikens played down the significance of the matchup.

"I don't know if it's as much about drawing them," Geppi-Aikens said. "If you're going to win, you've got to beat everybody and it doesn't matter when or where you play them. But Maryland is a good team. It wasn't like we cakewalked over them. Whoever plays better - that's the team that's going to win on Thursday."

The winner will advance to meet Cornell or Syracuse, both of whom were somewhat surprised by where they landed in the draw. Cornell, which had not been ranked in the top five all season, vaulted over Virginia and Loyola to get the No. 4 seed. Syracuse, ranked No. 16 last week, edged out Yale and Old Dominion.

At UMBC, the excitement is about simply making the NCAAs.

"We really didn't care who we played," coach Monica Yeakel said. "Would we have liked to stay local? Yeah, but it really doesn't matter. They were super excited when we got in. Now that we know what we need to do, they're focused."

Six other automatic bids were awarded: Loyola (Colonial Athletic Association), Temple (Atlantic 10), Georgetown (Big East), Princeton (Ivy League), Le Moyne (Metro Atlantic) and Lafayette (Patriot League).

In Division III, St. Mary's (18-0) will continue the best season in school history at 11:30 a.m. Saturday when it plays host to the winner of Wednesday's play-in game between Cabrini and Wooster.

The Division III field expanded to 18 teams this season, beginning with two play-in games. The field includes 10 automatic qualifiers but none from Maryland. St. Mary's won the Capital Athletic Conference, but that does not come with an automatic bid.

There were no surprises among the top four teams, as Middlebury (defending champion), College of New Jersey (2000 NCAA titlist), Amherst (last year's runner-up) and St. Mary's were chosen as host sites. There will be two games at each site on Saturday.

Women's schedule

Division II

All games in West Chester, Pa.

Regional semifinals

Saturday

Longwood vs. West Chester, 2 p.m. C.W. Post vs. Stonehill, 4:30 p.m.

National championship

Sunday

Semifinal winners, 2 p.m.

Division III

Wednesday

Preliminaries Western New England at Springfield, 4:30 p.m. Wooster at Cabrini, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday

First round

At Gettysburg

College of New Jersey vs. Susquehanna, 11:30 a.m. Gettysburg vs. Cortland 2 p.m.

At Amherst

Amherst vs. Colorado College, 11:30 a.m. Union vs. Nazareth, 2 p.m.

At Middlebury

Western New England-Springfield winner vs. Middlebury, 11:30 a.m. Rowan vs. William Smith, 2 p.m.

At St. Mary's

Wooster-Cabrini winner vs. St. Mary's, 11:30 a.m. Randolph-Macon vs. Mary Washington, 2 p.m.

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