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Previewing the semifinals of the NCAA Division I women's lacrosse tournament

NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse semifinals

At Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook, N.Y.

No. 1 seed Maryland (20-1) vs. No. 4 seed Boston College (21-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Live streamed: ESPN3

Coaches: Cathy Reese, Maryland; Acacia Walker-Weinstein, Boston College

Players to watch: Megan Whittle, senior, attack, Maryland; Sam Appuzo, junior, attack, Boston College

Outlook: The Terps won their 13th NCAA championship and their third in four years over Boston College, 16-13, last year. The Eagles had never been to the final four until last season.

This rematch features the two highest scoring players remaining in the tournament — both Tewaaraton Award finalists. Whittle (McDonogh), who has 83 goals and 15 assists, is the second most prolific goal scorer in NCAA Division I history with 297 career goals. Apuzzo has 81 goals and 37 assists. Both, however, get a lot of help.

The Terps and the Eagles have exceptionally balanced offenses, something Walker-Weinstein said a team can’t win a national championship without. The Terps have six players with 36 points or more, including Caroline Steele (Severn) with 58 goals and 20 assists and Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) with 49 and 28. Five Eagles have 36 or more points, including Dempsey Arsenault with 59 and 34 and Kaileen Hart with 55 and 27.

Maryland averages 16.33 goals per game while the Eagles score 15.77. The Terps allow 9.67 while Boston College gives up 9.23. The game is likely to be that close.

The Eagles needed overtime to beat Stony Brook, which had been No. 1 most of the season. The Seawolves held Apuzzo to one goal, but she fed Arsenault for the game-winner. Like the Eagles, the Terps trailed in the second half of the quarterfinal before Whittle scored her only three goals, the second to give them the lead for good in a 17-15 win over Navy, a final four team last season. Goalie Megan Taylor (Glenelg) also came up with some big saves late to help the Terps sustain the six-goal run that included Whittle’s goals.

Another key to this game will be on the draw, where Maryland averages 17.05 and the Eagles 16.18. Apuzzo set an Eagles record with 145 this season and Maryland’s Kali Hartshorn has 135. Both have a lot of help from key players on the circle, especially Arsenault and the Terps’ Lizzie Colson (Manchester Valley).

The Terps have won 18 straight games since falling to North Carolina in overtime in February. The Eagles’ only loss also came to the Tar Heels, in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final in late April.

No. 2 seed North Carolina (17-3) vs. No. 3 seed James Madison (20-1)

When: Friday, 5 p.m.

Live streamed: ESPN3

Coaches: Jenny Levy, North Carolina; Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, James Madison

Players to watch: Marie McCool, senior, midfielder, North Carolina; Kristen Gaudian, senior, attack, James Madison

Outlook: James Madison drew a lot of attention with a season-opening win over North Carolina, 15-14 in double overtime. The Dukes hadn’t beaten North Carolina since 2000 — the last time they made it to the final four. This season, the Dukes have already beaten two teams twice, Towson and Virginia, which Klaes-Bawcombe said gives her team a lot of confidence that they can beat one of the most successful teams in recent tournament history for a second time.

The Tar Heels won the 2013 and 2016 national championships and have played in two other title games since 2009. They missed the final four last season after falling to Navy in the quarterfinals. The Tar Heels are the only team with the luxury of having played every team in the semifinalss this season. They split with ACC rival Boston College and beat Maryland in overtime.

Both teams boast a Tewaaraton Award finalist — McCool, for the second time, and Gaudian. Both are versatile and contribute all over the field. McCool has 59 goals, 19 assists, 155 draw controls and 22 caused turnovers. Gaudian had 74 goals and 15 assists to lead the Dukes in scoring and also has 74 draw controls.

Both teams have posted similar numbers on the offensive end. The Tar Heels average 16 goals and the Dukes, 15.76. North Carolina has six players with 36 or more points. Freshman Jamie Ortega has 66 goals and 15 assists while Katie Hoeg has 39 and 48. The Dukes have five, including Hanna Haven with 41 and 30 and Elena Romesburg with 63 and six.

The Dukes, however, have the stingiest defense in the tournament, allowing just 8.65 goals. They held Florida, which averages 16.33 goals, to half that in an 11-8 quarterfinal victory. The Tar Heels don’t give up a lot either, 10.4, but they allowed more in the 19-14 win over Northwestern in the quarterfinals. However, goalie Taylor Moreno made 17 saves in that game.

The Dukes’ only loss was to Maryland, 15-12, but they have won 12 in a row since. The Tar Heels have won 11 straight since falling to Boston College in the regular-season meeting, which they avenged in the ACC final.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kdunnsun

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