Terps stop Virginia for women's ACC title

Venechanos' 13 saves boost Maryland, 11-6

College Lacrosse

April 21, 2003|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Virginia came into the Atlantic Coast Conference women's lacrosse tournament averaging a conference-best 14 goals a game, but the No. 4 Cavaliers couldn't come close to that yesterday against Maryland goalie Alexis Venechanos.

The senior made a season-high 13 saves and stopped every free-position shot she faced in leading the No. 2 Terrapins to an 11-6 victory at Virginia's Klockner Stadium for their fifth ACC championship in the seven-year history of the women's tournament.

The tournament's Most Valuable Player, Venechanos showed no signs of what is likely a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee suffered April 2 at Georgetown. Although a magnetic resonance imaging showed no sign of a tear, Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said, Venechanos will have exploratory arthroscopic surgery after the season to find out for sure.

In the meantime, Venechanos has been nothing but steady and poised. She had 12 saves in Friday's 13-5 semifinal win over No. 14 North Carolina as well as yesterday's stellar performance as the Cavaliers outshot Maryland 30-23.

Venechanos made perhaps her two biggest saves of the game midway through the first half, enabling Maryland to break open a 3-1 game and go up 7-1 by halftime. She first saved a nice shot by Courtney Young. Five minutes later, with about 15 minutes to go, she made a point-blank stop against Morgan Thalenberg.

Turnover-prone Maryland gave the Cavaliers (12-4) another chance a couple of minutes later, but Lauren Aumiller's free-position shot to pull to within 3-2 was checked and Venechanos came up with the ball. Sonia Judd then fed Kristie Leggio for a 4-1 Terps lead.

"It could have been a really close situation right there," Timchal said. "Coming up with those big saves was huge. It kept that gap, and we were able to continue to score after that."

Even though Maryland turned the ball over 19 times, the Cavaliers struggled to take advantage. Virginia finally converted a pair of Terps turnovers to start the second half as Thalenberg and Cary Chasney pulled the Cavaliers within 7-3, but Collins broke the momentum with a free-position goal.

After Amy Appelt brought the Cavaliers to within 8-4 with 14 minutes to go, the Terps reeled off consecutive goals by Acacia Walker, Collins and Jessica Dorney to take control for good.

As usual, Venechanos got a lot of help from defenders Julie Shank, Greta Sommers, Laura Warren and Molly Lambert, as well as midfielders Walker, Judd and Delia Cox, as the Terps improved to 6-0 against Virginia in the ACC tournament. As a unit, the Terps' defense came into the tournament leading the nation in scoring margin with an average differential of 6.29. Only two opponents have managed double figures against the Terps, who give up just 6.75 goals a game.

"We've been focusing on playing together as a unit instead of looking at it as seven one-v-ones," said Shank, a senior captain. "We have great team chemistry and we back each other up 100 percent and, of course, when we're not there, we have Alexis. She doesn't do a lot of talking, but she just saves shot after shot."

In addition to Venechanos, Shank, Judd, Collins (three goals) and Kelly Coppedge were named to the all-tournament team along with Virginia's Tiffany Schummer, Courtney Miller and Aumiller, who scored her 200th career goal.

Virginia 1 5 - 6

Maryland 7 4 - 11

Goals: V-Appelt 2, Aumiller 2, Thalenberg, Chasney; M-Collins 3, Coppedge 2, Leggio 2, Walker 2, Judd, Dorney. Assists: V-Banks 2, Aumiller; M-Walker 3, Judd 2, Coppedge, Collins. Saves: V-Pfeiffer 6; M-Venechanos 13.

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