Ascendant Hopkins ready to face storied Maryland

Women's Notebook

April 05, 2006|By KATHERINE DUNN | KATHERINE DUNN,SUN REPORTER

As the Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse team rose to No. 2 this week for the first time in its history - Division I or Division III - the Blue Jays aim to reach another milestone this weekend.

In eight meetings with Maryland, the Blue Jays have never won. They aim to change that Sunday when the No. 6 Terrapins come to Homewood Field at noon.

The Blue Jays (8-0) have pulled closer to the Terps (9-3) in recent years. They lost 24-5 in 2001 and 19-4 in 2003, but they got within 13-8 in 2002, 14-11 in 2004 and 12-10 last season.

"The gap has been closing," Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker said. "I feel we got over a little bit of a hump with the win over Princeton. Our Maryland game is another hump to get over in many ways - psychologically, emotionally and for our program's sake."

Tucker said part of the challenge is simply getting past the aura Maryland still carries onto the field even though it has been five years since it won the last of seven straight national titles.

"One thing Maryland does very well is they kind of get in your head before you even step on the field," Tucker said. "We've been able to fight that and minimize that as the years have gone by. They are a terrific team. If I'm talking about my team in the same breath as Maryland, I'm pretty happy."

Tigers bounce back

After reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, Towson has noticed a different attitude from its opponents this spring.

"Teams are gunning for us now. They're bringing their A game," Tigers coach Missy Holmes said. "It was definitely a transition for our team. It's something we have to get used to."

The Tigers (5-5) apparently have adjusted. After dropping five of their last seven games, including three one-goal games, they upset then-No. 14 William and Mary, 13-11, in a Colonial Athletic Association game Sunday.

The Tigers jumped to a 5-0 lead and stayed on top the entire game. Goalie Mandy Corry made 17 saves, Shannon Witzel scored five goals and Becky Trumbo's two assists made her the Tigers' all-time career leader with 71.

The Tigers have a tougher schedule this season, adding No. 12 Syracuse and No. 19 Penn - two losses during that recent stretch. They also have four to six starting freshmen and the team took a while to jell.

"The kids are great individually, but you need that energy as a whole. We needed to be more excited and get more momentum plays. [Sunday] we had a little bit of extra adrenaline. We had a better shooting day and Mandy had a good day in the cage," said Holmes, whose team travels to Drexel on Friday.

UMBC makes strides

Boston University reached the NCAA tournament quarterfinals last season and was pegged to repeat as champions of America East.

That didn't faze UMBC.

The Retrievers upset the then-No. 11 Terriers, 16-13, on Saturday in what first-year coach Courtney Martinez Connor called one of the biggest wins in the program's history.

"I'm pleased that they have continued to step up," Connor said. "They could have been satisfied with losing to Loyola by two goals or to William and Mary by two goals. They lost to both of them by 10 goals or more last year. Those efforts were great strides for the program, but we kept telling the girls, they were capable of more."

Senior Julie Libertini and junior Megan Mullins have been the keys to the Retrievers' defense while Kelly Fiorani, Jen Kasper, Kelly Fahey, Ali Levendusky, Meghan Keelan and freshman Kara Dorr are the top scorers.

After four years as head coach at Mount St. Mary's, Connor brought many of the coaching insights she learned as an All-America defender at Maryland to UMBC.

"It's been an easy transition in the sense that the kids have been open to change, which isn't always the case. We're fortunate that they were willing to take everything we said, learn it and they're finally applying it," Connor said.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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