Virginia women edge Towson, 14-12, for emotional win

Late goals by Cavaliers prevent Tigers from completing upset

May 17, 2010|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — — In another year, in another situation, Sunday's 14-12 loss to Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA women's lacrosse tournament might have hurt Towson coach Missy Doherty and her players a little more.

"It's always a tough loss, I don't think there's anything that's not a tough loss," Doherty said. "What made it a great day for our program was the way we played. We took it to a top-10 team. We didn't give up the entire game. They stayed focused."

Unlike Towson's first three trips to the NCAA tournament, all of which ended in defeat, this one felt different even before the Tigers stepped onto the field at Klockner Stadium for a nationally televised game against a Virginia team still mourning the May 3 killing of senior Yeardley Love of Cockeysville.

"It was something we addressed at the beginning of practice last week, and again [Saturday night] about what to expect, make sure they prepare for kind of an emotional game a little bit," Doherty said. "The girls did a great job when it counted to concentrate on the things they needed to."

Towson (13-5) overcame an early 3-0 deficit by scoring three straight goals and five of the next six, trailed at halftime 8-7 and then fell behind again, 10-7, before tying the score at 11 with a little less than 91/2 minutes left.

But goals by seniors Brittany Kalkstein (Roland Park) and Caity Whiteley (St. Paul's), who like Love grew up not far from the Towson campus, helped Virginia (14-5) avoid a first-round upset and move on to the quarterfinals.

Virginia coach Julie Myers gave the Tigers a lot of credit, particularly under the emotional circumstances surrounding the game.

Myers made several adjustments before the game because of injuries — and the death of Love, a starting defender — as well as at halftime.

"We knew they loved the one-on-one. They should — they're really good at it," Myers said. "I thought our defense played much better in the second half trying to absorb some of those challenges. I think our defense really stepped up in the second half and our attack did enough."

The Tigers, who honored Love by wearing wristbands in Virginia's colors and giving the Cavalier players pins of an angel holding a lacrosse stick, knew they were in a no-win situation.

Said senior attacker Jacie Kendall: "It was hard to win here knowing that everyone was rooting against us a little bit. I think out of respect to the Virginia team, it was our duty to play as hard as we could against them. It was our job to give them a good game, and we definitely did that."

Doherty couldn't have been more proud of her team, which ended the regular season ranked No. 8.

"I think we had a great year. Our program has grown from year to year, ending the season with a high ranking was a huge step," she said. "I think the girls did a great job of stepping up, facing a tough opponent and playing a great game today."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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