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Previewing NCAA Division I women's lacrosse semifinals

By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

10:03 PM EDT, May 26, 2011

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At LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook University

No. 1 seed Maryland (20-1) vs. No. 5 Duke (15-4)

Friday, 5 p.m.

Outlook: The Atlantic Coast Conference rivals know each other well and both have been through rocky seasons with a spate of unusual injuries and illnesses. Still, both have depth and have been able to plug the holes. While defending champion Maryland is in the final four for the 18th time, the Blue Devils are in for the sixth.

Maryland has won the past four meetings, including an 18-11 decision Feb. 26, but Duke had has its turn, too, winning twice in 2008, including knocking the Terrapins out in the NCAA quarterfinals.

The Terrapins have a powerhouse offense that averages 15.05 goals per game, but they also have the No. 1 scoring defense in Division I, anchored by goalie Brittany Dipper, and have held opponents to just 6.67 goals. Sarah Mollison (52 goals, 45 assists) and Katie Schwarzmann (60, 13) lead the Terps and are finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the top college player. Christie Kaestner (32, 45) and Tewaaraton finalist Emma Hamm pace the Blue Devils, who average 14.2 goals and give up 10.37.

No. 2 Northwestern (19-2) vs. No. 3 North Carolina (15-5)

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: The Tar Heels have had some success against Northwestern, but not in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have beaten Carolina in the tournament three of the past five years — and in the final four each of the last two years, including the 2009 title game. The Cats pulled out a 7-6 overtime win Feb. 25.

For the first time since 2004, the Wildcats lost two games — dropping back-to-back games to American Lacrosse Conference foes Florida and Johns Hopkins — but they regrouped, especially on defense, and won the conference title. Led by Tewaaraton finalist Shannon Smith (78 goals, 41 assists), they average 14.24 goals per game but give up only 8.57; they have held three of their past five opponents to four goals or fewer.

The Tar Heels are paced by their all-time leading point-getter, Corey Donohoe (51, 21), as well as Becky Lynch (38, 35). They average 12.8 goals and give up 8.3. Donohoe was shut out in only one game this season — against Northwestern.

FINAL FOUR FUN FACTS

Most championships: Maryland — 10*

Most consecutive titles: Maryland — 7

Most final four appearances: Maryland — 19

Most team goals in a title game: Northwestern — 21 (2009)

Most points in a title game: Jen Adams, Maryland — 10 (2000)

Most goals in a title game: 6 (tie) — Cary Chasney, Virginia (2005); Erin Elbe, Georgetown (2001)

Most assists in a title game: Hannah Nielsen, Northwestern — 6 (2009)

*Maryland also won an Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women national championship in 1981.

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