Beth Glaros believes she's been a Terp all her life.
The only starting senior on the Maryland women's lacrosse team, Glaros followed her parents, who met at Maryland, to College Park and also has two brothers and several members of her extended family who went there.
She grew up with a red wardrobe, but when the high-scoring midfielder from Wilde Lake began considering college lacrosse programs, she looked around before settling on Maryland.
"During the recruiting process, I took all my visits and went to a lot of places because I wasn't sure where I wanted to go," said Glaros, "but Maryland was always in the back of my mind."
As a freshman, her breakout game came in the national final when she scored four goals in an 8-7 loss to Northwestern. With the Wildcats more focused on stopping the high-scoring duo of Sarah Mollison and Katie Schwarzmann, Glaros made the most of her opportunities.
Now back in the championship game, Glaros would like nothing more than to lead the Terps to their 12th national title and their first since 2010. In Sunday night's NCAA Division I championship, the top-seeded Terps will face No. 2 Syracuse.
The last few weeks have been emotional for Glaros, never knowing which game would be her last. She's not looking forward to Monday morning.
"Beth loves Maryland; she loves everything about it," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. "She's a super huge Maryland fan, so she's passionate about this team as a leader of it."
Her teammates want her leadership and dedication rewarded with a national championship.
"I think this teams lives and breathes with Beth," sophomore midfielder Taylor Cummings said. "She wants this so bad. She's wanted it for the past four years. This is her last opportunity. I think she's done an amazing job of stepping up and really leading us, being that vocal leader that we need out there. We really, really want to give this to her and the rest of our seniors on Sunday."
Glaros said the role of vocal leader is one she's had to grow into.
"The past three years we've had great leaders, so I never really had to step into that role," she said, "but this year as a senior year, I found myself trying to be more verbal rather than just leading by example. It's been different, but I think it's been good for me and the team."
On the offensive end, Glaros has been a key cog in a Terps offense that averages 14.57 goals per game. She's fourth on the team in scoring with 48 goals and seven assists and she had a goal and two assists in Friday's 9-6 semifinal win over No. 5 seed Northwestern.
Although she plays key roles on the draw and on defense, Glaros' favorite part of the game is transition, which is a Terps trademark. They love to run and gun.
"Beth has tremendous speed and athleticism," Reese said. "She is crucial for us coming through in transition and is a great dodger on the offensive end. She has the ability to beat her defender and score, which has been a huge reason for our success this season."
To cap it off with the title Sunday at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Terps will have to win for the third time this season over Syracuse, a team seeking its first national championship. The Orange is making its fifth trip to the final four in seven years.
An obvious key for the Terps will be to contain the best one-two scoring punch in the country, Tewaaraton Award finalists Kayla Treanor and Alyssa Murray. The Orange duo ran amok against No. 6 Virginia in Friday night's semifinal, combining for 16 points in the 16-8 win.
Maryland, however, has plenty of experience against the two attackers, who have a combined 139 goals and 220 points this season. The Terps defense, led by Tewaaraton finalist Megan Douty, held them to five goals and one assist in the regular-season 12-10 victory and to four goals in the 13-7 Atlantic Coast Conference championship game, in which the Orange managed just 15 shots.
One of the best ways to hold off the Orange again will be to control the draw, where Glaros plays a key role. Cummings, a McDonogh graduate, takes the draws and leads the team with 120 draw controls, but she can also get the ball to Glaros or Erin Collins, who have combined to win 125. The trio accounted for all but one of Maryland's draw controls in the semifinal victory.
The Terps won 10 of 17 against Northwestern, which helped them pick up the pace later in the game despite the Wildcats' efforts to slow them. Syracuse, which plays a physical style similar to Northwestern's, hasn't been able to contain a Terps offense that features three players with more than 80 points — Cummings, Brooke Griffin and Kelly McPartland — along with several other options, including Glaros.
On Sunday, Glaros will take advantage of her opportunities one last time.
"It's a little bit surreal just knowing that it is my last game, but we've worked all season to put ourselves in this position, and finally being here is exciting for us. The team is eager to fight for a national championship. I really want to win this because I've been to three final fours and come up short, so it would be really nice to go out on top."
NCAA Division I women's lacrosse championship
No. 1 Maryland (22-1) vs. No. 2 Syracuse (21-2)
When: Sunday, 8:30
Where: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson University
TV: ESPNUCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun