Maryland comes of age, 13-8

Rejuvenated women beat Loyola in NCAA opener

May 10, 2002|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Maryland's national champion streak isn't over yet.

The young Terrapins women's lacrosse team came of age yesterday with an impressive 13-8 victory over No. 5 Loyola before 542 fans at Curley Field in an NCAA Division I tournament first-round game - a performance reminiscent of Maryland teams that have won the past seven national crowns.

With seven new faces in the starting lineup - including four freshmen - the No. 8 Terps (11-9) had struggled through parts of this season, but yesterday, they put it all together.

They hit quick cutters on attack, outran the Greyhounds (15-4) in the midfield, smothered the ball on defense and got a superb performance from goalie Alexis Venechanos, who made 13 saves.

The victory marks the 21st straight NCAA tournament win for the Terps, who will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., on Sunday to meet No. 6 Cornell, a 16-8 winner over Syracuse yesterday.

These Terps had a lot to live up to. Maryland has played in 12 straight final fours and been to the national final 11 of the past 12 years. It hasn't lost a national tournament game since 1994.

"This is exciting for this 2002 team that had overcome a lot to pull together," said Terps coach Cindy Timchal, whose team lost five one-goal games and suffered all nine losses by a total of 18 points.

"We felt all season having the toughest schedule in the country and coming up short a couple times, we could beat anyone on our schedule. We just ran out of time."

Yesterday, the Terps wasted no time taking charge in the drizzly rain. They scored more goals in the first 11 minutes than they had in the entire regular-season game won by Loyola, 7-4, two weeks ago.

The Terps looked to strike quickly in transition as often as possible, and it paid off. Kristie Leggio, Meredith Egan, Annie Collins, Sonia Judd and Kelly Coppedge provided the 5-0 lead that drove the victory.

"On defense there might have been some holes," said Loyola goalie Tricia Dabrowski, "and Maryland found them perfectly. We had a little bit of trouble marking up on the cutters and they hit them and they had great shots. They saw the cage and they put it right around me."

At halftime, the lead was still five, but the Greyhounds made up a little ground after the break. Suzanne Eyler slipped a double team and drove down the middle before Stacey Morlang nailed a free-position goal to cut the Terps' lead to 8-5.

But Maryland had an answer for everything. Coppedge got loose and powered down the middle to boost the lead to 9-6.

The Greyhounds could not get closer, although they certainly had their chances.

They took 22 shots, just three fewer than Maryland. While Venechanos made some terrific saves, the Greyhounds shot right at her on several key occasions. They also made 16 turnovers.

"No surprises really," said Loyola coach Diane Geppi-Aikens. "The difference in the game was that we made mistakes and they didn't make many mistakes. The mistakes we made, they capitalized on."

Maryland 8 5 - 13

Loyola 3 5 - 8

Goals: M- Judd 3, Hobbs 3, Coppedge 2, Leggio 2, Egan, Collins, Walker; L- Morlang 3, Eyler 3, Shuck, Walker. Assists: M-Coppedge 2, Judd, Hobbs, Collins, Egan; L-Borrone, Warnock. Saves: M-Venechanos 11; L-Dabrowski 7.

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