Terps women will play for championship

Maryland beats Duke 14-8 in NCAA tournament semifinal

  • The Maryland women's lacrosse team celebrates a goal against Duke.
The Maryland women's lacrosse team celebrates a goal… (McClatchy-Tribune photo )
May 28, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — With all the scoring the Maryland women's lacrosse team does, the defense goes largely unheralded, but the Big Dipper and her constellation deserve much of the credit for Friday's 14-8 victory over Duke in the NCAA Division I semifinals.

Goalie Brittany Dipper, who has the nation's best save percentage, had to make only four saves, largely because her field defense forced 12 turnovers and held the Blue Devils to six shots in the first half at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium.

The defending champion Terrapins (21-1) will go after their 12th national title, and their 11th since the NCAA took over the sport 30 years ago, when they meet second-seeded Northwestern at 4 p.m. Sunday in a rematch of last year's final, which the Terps won, 13-11.

The Terps have beaten the Blue Devils five straight times since their Atlantic Coast Conference rivals knocked them out in the NCAA lacrosse quarterfinals in 2008. This will be Maryland's 20th appearance in a national title game -- 16 in the NCAAs.

Maryland's defense, led by Katie Gallagher, Brittany Poist, Iliana Sanza, Sara Cooper and Dipper, have allowed just 6.67 goals per game -- the best scoring defense in Division I.

In the first 34 minutes Friday night, the Terps matched every Duke shot with a goal and ended up outshooting the Blue Devils 32-20. But it took a while for Maryland's offense to get rolling, as Duke's defense kept the Blue Devils team within 5-2 at halftime.

"For us to have 12 turnovers in the first half is very unusual for us," Duke coach Kerstin Kimel said. "That was difficult to recover from, and I think Maryland just kind of wore us down with possession after possession. Eventually, they're going to score."

The Terps allowed the Blue Devils only six shots in the first 32 minutes despite Duke's attempts to run a patient offense. Duke also stifled the Terps' transition game -- a key to their average of 15.05 goals this season -- for most of the half.

Maryland scored two of its first three goals on free-position shots and the third when Katie Schwarzmann fed Sarah Mollison off a free position from outside the 8-meter arc.

Tewaaraton Award finalists Mollison and Schwarzmann scored four goals each, and Laura Merrifield added three.

After Brandi Jones fed Merrifield for her final goal, the Terps led 6-2 a minute into the second half and had as many goals as Duke had shots.

Mollison and Schwarzmann connected again two minutes later before Dipper made a terrific save on Kat Thomas racing to goal off the draw and then stopped Sarah Bullard's free-position shot.

Schwarzmann made it 8-3 on an unassisted goal with 25:23 remaining. Emma Hamm answered Schwarzmann's goal, but Beth Glaros' free-position goal pushed Maryland's lead back to five at 9-4.

After Mollison rolled the crease to find a high corner and Kristy Black scored a transition goal off a Duke turnover for an 11-4 lead with 17:48 to go, the Terps had all but sealed their berth in the final.

"Duke is a talented team, and we knew we were going to have our hands full defensively," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. "We needed to take advantage of our opportunities on offense. When the game started, we struggled a bit with that. We were getting some looks and missed the cage a couple times. We just needed to settle down."

The Terps gradually settled into their offense. After Molly Quirke scored the first goal for Duke, the Terps steadily built a 5-2 lead at the half and then scored the first three goals of the second half in a little over three minutes.

On free-positions, Maryland went 4-for-5, while Duke missed all four of its attempts. Duke goalie Mollie Mackler made 10 saves to keep her team in the game.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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