The Final Four at Lehigh University's Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pa., opens with a pair of rivalries, as tomorrow's semifinals send top-ranked Harvard (13-1) against Princeton (13-3) at 2 p.m., and Maryland (12-1) against Virginia (14-2) at 4. The winners come back Sunday at 3 p.m., and if form follows, the second-ranked Terps will still be alive.
First, the Cavaliers are trying to become first ever to repeat as national champs. They beat Maryland, 8-6, in last year's final, and the Terps know that six times since the NCAA began governing the tournament in 1982 has the previous year's runner-up claimed the title. Of course, Maryland also referred to that formula last year, since it fell to Harvard in the 1990 final.
Coach Cindy Timchal's Maryland team stumbled just once this spring, losing 7-5 at Harvard on a cold, bitter April 11. It since has won six straight games, and is primed to add to the national titles Sue Tyler-coached teams won in 1981 and '86. The Terps' most meaningful victory might have come back in April, when they beat Virginia by a goal.
Five Terps players -- attacker Leigh Frendberg, defenders Jen Fink (Broadneck), Kim Terhorst (St. Mary's) and Kerstin Manning, and goalie Mandy Stevenson -- were named to the regional all-star team and are eligible for the All-America team next week.
Freshman Laura Harmon has 39 goals and six assists, but Maryland's most consistent offensive player lately has been Betsy Elder, a sophomore from Severna Park.
Virginia, which has won 12 straight since consecutive losses at Princeton and Maryland, has the nation's top goal-getter in Jenny Slingluff, a senior from Roland Park. She has 52 goals and 13 assists this spring, and 118 and 34 in her career. The second-leading scorer is Elaine Jones, a senior from Friends who has 39 goals and nine assists.
The Cavaliers handled Penn State, 11-5, in last week's first round.
Harvard had a hand in a bit of controversy, as the Crimson's lone loss came at Loyola. The Greyhounds felt that was one reason they should have gotten the sixth and final tournament berth instead of Temple, which lost to Princeton in the first round.
Harvard, which will be seeking its 36th straight win over an Ivy League opponent, has the league's Player of the Year in defender Ceci Clark while junior Liz Berkery has scored 45 goals. Princeton has five players with local ties, the most prominent being Anne Sherwood, a Severn School grad who has a school-record 20 assists, and midfielders Jenny Bristow (Roland Park) and Emily Krause (Arundel).