By Edward Lee and Katherine Dunn
9:22 PM EDT, May 24, 2012
At Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
No. 1 Loyola (16-1) vs. No. 4 Notre Dame
Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Comment: The Greyhounds have a 12-5 lead in the series, but the Fighting Irish have won the past four meetings. However, Saturday's contest will be only the second time these two sides have met in the tournament. Loyola walloped Notre Dame, 21-5, in the first round on May 11, 1997. Junior attackman Mike Sawyer established a program record with his 51st goal of the season, eclipsing Tim Goettelman's previous mark of 50 goals in 2000. But can he and the rest of the Greyhounds' offense solve Fighting Irish junior goalie John Kemp, who ranks first in Division I in both save percentage (.641) and goals-against average (5.96)?
Maryland (11-5) vs. No. 3 Duke
Saturday, 5 p.m.
Comment: The Terps own a 59-20 advantage in this series, and the teams split two meetings earlier in the year, with Maryland winning, 10-7, on March 3, and the Blue Devils returning the favor with a 6-5 decision in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinal April 20. The Terps upended Duke, 7-4, in the NCAA tournament semifinals May 28, 2011. After shutting out Johns Hopkins junior attackman Zach Palmer in their first matchup this season, Maryland freshman defenseman Goran Murray surrendered just one goal to Palmer in Saturday's 11-5 victory. Murray will likely be matched up against Blue Devils sophomore attackman Jordan Wolf, who has not scored a goal this season against Maryland.
At Stony Brook, N.Y.
No. 3 Maryland (19-3) vs. No. 2 Northwestern (19-2)
Friday, 8 p.m.
Comment: The two most successful teams in NCAA women's lacrosse tournament history meet on the season's final weekend for a third straight year. The past two years they have met in the final, with the Wildcats taking last year's title, 8-7, after the Terrapins won, 13-11, in 2010. Maryland has won 10 national championships, while the Wildcats have won six. Maryland comes into the semifinal with eight straight wins, including its fourth straight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title, while the Wildcats dropped their American Lacrosse Conference final to Florida, the only team to beat them this year. The Terrapins struggled on the draw in last year's final, but that shouldn't be an issue now with the return of Karri Ellen Johnson (Broadneck), out last year with a concussion. Still, this should be another close one. Both teams have balanced offenses and aggressive defenses. Goalkeeping might be the key to which teams goes on to play for another title.
No. 1 Florida (19-2) vs. No. 4 Syracuse (18-3)
Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Comment: The Orange defeated Florida, 12-11, in double overtime in the fourth game of the season March 3, but both teams have grown a lot since then. Florida has won 15 straight and beaten defending champion Northwestern twice since dropping two of its first five games by a total of three goals. The Gators, in only their third season and their first semifinals, beat the Wildcats, 14-7, for the American Lacrosse Conference championship. The Orange, in its third trip to the final four, lost two of its first three games and then fell to Loyola in the Big East Conference final. The Gators have allowed only eight goals in the first two tournament games, while the Orange have given up 21. Goalkeeping will have to improve for the Orange for it to reach its first national title game — Syracuse goalies managed just one save in a 17-16 quarterfinal win over North Carolina.
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