Division I semifinals
(At Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson University)
No. 1 seed Maryland (21-1) vs. No. 5 Northwestern (14-6)
Friday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN3
Outlook: The Terps and the Wildcats get a jump on next year's inaugural Big Ten season as the two most successful programs in Division I history meet for the 14th time. Maryland aims for its 12th national title, while the Wildcats are going after their eighth. Maryland leads the series 7-6, but Northwestern has won four of the last five meetings. Each team won its last national championship over the other — the Terps in 2010 and the Wildcats in 2011. In last year's final four, both fell to eventual champ North Carolina – the Terps, 13-12, in triple overtime in the final. This spring, Atlantic Coast Conference champion Maryland has been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 all season, with its only loss to North Carolina. The Wildcats have had an up-and-down season, but they avenged two losses to Florida, including one in the American Lacrosse Conference championship, with a 12-11 double-overtime victory in Saturday's national quarterfinals. The Wildcats have played nine 10 one-goal games and lost five, including two in overtime. They've won by an average of 2.74 goals per game, while Maryland has won by a 6.95 average. Against seven common opponents, the Terps were 6-1 and the Wildcats 5-2. The key to the game likely will be draw controls. With senior A Alyssa Leonard — Division I's all-time career leader — winning 160, the Wildcats have won 62 percent of the draws this spring. Maryland, led by sophomore M Taylor Cummings' 116, has won 64 percent. The Terps need that initial possession to jump-start an offense that has scored 105 more goals than the Wildcats; the Wildcats need it to slow that down. Maryland has four players — Cummings (McDonogh, 59 goals, 23 assists), junior A Brooke Griffin (South River, 57, 21), junior M Kelly McPartland (57, 31) and senior M Beth Glaros (Wilde Lake, 47, 5) — with more points than the Wildcats' top scorer, Leonard (40, 11). Junior A Kara Mupo (38, 9) and senior A Kat DeRonda (35, 10) have also been key for Northwestern's attack.
No. 2 Syracuse (20-2) vs. No. 6 Virginia (12-8)
Friday, 5 p.m., ESPN3
Outlook: While Syracuse has been a regular in the final four recently, Virginia hasn't been in the semifinals in seven years. The Orange is playing on championship weekend for the third straight time and the fifth time in seven years, but the New York team is still looking for its first national title. Virginia won the last of its three national crowns in 2004 and is back in the semifinals for the 14th time. The Cavaliers lead the series 11-5, but the Orange have won the last two meetings after falling eight straight times. Since Feb. 23, when Syracuse won the regular-season meeting, 18-14, in its Atlantic Coast Conference debut, a lot has changed, especially for the Cavaliers. Virginia had to bounce back from a 4-6 start with wins over Top 10 teams Notre Dame, Boston College and Duke to get over .500 and become eligible for the tournament. In the quarterfinal, Virginia dismissed defending champion and No. 3 North Carolina to leave no doubt that it could contend for the title. Led by junior A Courtney Swan (53 goals, 26 assists) and junior M Liza Blue (Garrison Forest, 55, 10), the Cavaliers have made some changes on the defensive end to help goalie Liz Colgan (Notre Dame Prep) hold five of their last 10 opponents to single digits in goals. The Cavaliers will have their hands full against a Syracuse attack averaging 14.41 goals per game and led by sophomore A Kayla Treanor (73, 34) and senior Alyssa Murray (56, 41), who are Tewaaraton Award finalists. The Orange, which suffered both of its losses to No. 1 Maryland, has been held to single digits just three times.
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