At least one women's lacrosse player from Carroll will be a national champion after today's Division I title game between Maryland and North Carolina, regardless of which team wins.
The undefeated Terrapins (22-0) feature starting midfielder Katie Schwarzmann and starting defender Alice Mercer, both Century High graduates, as well as reserve midfielder Amalie Trentzsch, from Winters Mill.
The Tar Heels (17-3) counter with starting midfielder Brittney Coppa, a North Carroll graduate.
Many of the players on both teams have long histories.
If Maryland is to capture the championship, goalkeeper Kasey Howard may need to save a shot from former Broadneck High teammate Taylor George.
Similarly, if North Carolina is to pull off the upset, goalie Megan Ward might have to thwart a scoring attempt by former St. Mary's High teammate Kristen Lamon.
Carroll and Anne Arundel County products will play prominent roles when the top-seeded Terrapins take on the third-seeded Tar Heels at 8 p.m. at Villanova University.
The senior Schwarzmann, the reigning Tewaaraton Award winner, has accumulated 82 points this season on 55 goals and 27 assists, both second on the Terps. Mercer moved into a starting role on defense at Maryland as a freshman.
And Coppa, a junior, ranks third on North Carolina with 33 goals.
Howard has been the season-long starter between the pipes for Maryland, which is looking to complete its seventh undefeated season and capture its 12th NCAA championship. The 5-foot-2 senior recorded 126 saves and posted an 8.23 goals-against average while playing behind a stingy defense.
Ward took over as North Carolina's starting netminder just six games ago, replacing Lauren Maksym. The 5-foot-2 freshman has appeared in a total of 17 games and stopped just over 50 percent of the shots she has faced. The Annapolis resident has amassed 90 saves and notched an 8.38 goals-against average.
George has scored 30 goals, which ranks fourth for the Tar Heels. The junior midfielder has also registered 23 draw controls and 21 ground balls while playing a key role in the clearing game. The Arnold resident has really emerged as a key shooter after netting just 15 goals her first two seasons in Chapel Hill.
Ward made seven saves while George contributed an assist in Carolina's 11-4 victory over No. 2 Northwestern on Friday night.
Senior attack Alex Aust leads a potent offense with 69 goals and 54 assists for Maryland, which will be making its 17th trip to the championship game and freshman midfielder Taylor Cummings (40 goals) are other key scorers for the Terps, whose last undefeated campaign came in 2001.
Maryland nipped North Carolina, 14-13, during the regular season then took the rematch, 12-8, in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament championship. It's rare for two teams to meet three times in the same season and Maryland head coach Cathy Reese isn't worried about the difficulty of beating one opponent for a third time.
"We compete in the top conference in women's lacrosse and it's great to see two ACC teams in the NCAA final," said Reese, who owns a 139-15 record in seven seasons at Maryland. "We're very familiar with them, they are very familiar with us. We need to come out and play our best game of lacrosse."
aryland captured seven straight national championships from 1995 through 2001 under the direction of former head coach Cindy Timchal, now at the Naval Academy. The Terps are trying to secure a second title under Reese, a two-time All-American who returned to her alma mater after spending three seasons as head coach at Denver.
"This team knows what it wants. You saw how calm, cool and collected these players are on Friday night. They didn't get fazed when we got down. I was so proud of the composure they showed," Reese said. "What we have accomplished so far means nothing. It's time to focus on the opportunity we have now and take advantage of it."