JHU women find a way into NCAAs

Late slump isn't costly

Princeton after 3 in a row


May 10, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Johns Hopkins' women's lacrosse players tried to temper their high hopes for making the NCAA Division I tournament field as they awaited the selections last night.

The Blue Jays were ranked No. 10 in last week's coaches' poll, but they lost four of their final six games after opening the season with 10 straight wins.

Some of those early wins, however, including a 12-11 victory over No. 11 Vanderbilt, and a late-season 13-12 win at No. 6 Notre Dame, convinced the NCAA selection committee that the Blue Jays belonged in the 16-team field.

For the first time in six years as a Division I program, the Blue Jays joined perennial contenders Maryland and Loyola as well as Mount St. Mary's in the tournament field that was announced last night.

The Blue Jays, who travel to meet No. 7 James Madison in Thursday afternoon's opening round, gathered at freshman Mary Key's home in Stevensville to await their lacrosse fate.

"We were all in my living room, and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop," Key said. "We secretly felt like we should make it. We had gone through all the teams and looked at their records and what they had done against each other. When they said `Johns Hopkins,' there was the loudest screech you ever heard."

Coach Janine Tucker, who led the Blue Jays to four Division III tournaments between 1994 and 1998, felt the same way that her players did.

"I felt we had a solid season with some good wins. I wasn't sure of anything, but I was wondering who else could they take?" said Tucker, in her 11th season at Johns Hopkins.

While the Blue Jays sweated out their selection, Maryland and Loyola were shoo-ins to make the tournament, receiving at-large bids. Northeast Conference champion Mount St. Mary's advanced after winning Saturday's play-in game over Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference qualifier Manhattan.

Maryland and Loyola are seeded third and fourth, respectively, behind No. 1 Princeton and No. 2 Virginia.

Princeton, which plays host to the final four May 21 to 23, became the first team other than Maryland to repeat as champions last season. The Tigers are 16-0 and looking for a third straight title.

The No. 3 Terrapins, with seven straight titles between 1995 and 2001, make their 15th consecutive trip to the tournament. They will play host to Temple on Thursday.

"To be the No. 3-seeded team is a real tribute to how tough we were this season even with the tough losses we had," said Maryland coach Cindy Timchal, whose team fell to Princeton, Virginia twice and Duke.

No. 4 Loyola is making its ninth straight appearance in the tournament, hosting No. 11 Vanderbilt on Thursday. Mount St. Mary's travels to Virginia on Thursday afternoon.

Only four teams are seeded and they - Princeton, Virginia, Maryland and Loyola - are last year's final four.

Timchal, Tucker and Loyola coach Kerri Johnson said they did not see any surprises in the field, although a couple of bubble teams, No. 12 North Carolina and No. 14 Yale, were not so fortunate as the Blue Jays.

Seven teams received automatic bids: Princeton (Ivy League), No. 8 Georgetown (Big East), James Madison (Colonial Athletic Association), Vanderbilt (American Lacrosse Conference), Colgate (Patriot League), Temple (Atlantic 10) and New Hampshire (America East).

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