COLLEGE PARK -- Although the four teams in the women's Division I lacrosse semifinals have 16 Final Four appearances among them in the past six years, neither of this year's matchups has occurred in nearly a decade.
Virginia and Maryland, the only ACC schools with women's lacrosse and the tournament's two top seeds, square off against Ivy League members Princeton and Harvard. Today, the top-ranked Cavaliers (13-1) face No. 6 Harvard (13-2) at 2 p.m. and the No. 2 Terps play host to third-ranked Princeton at 4 p.m.
In the Division III semifinals, No. 7 Johns Hopkins opens up against No. 2 William Smith at 10 a.m. at Byrd. Two-time defending champion Trenton (N.J.) State seeks to extend its 40-game win streak against No. 5 Franklin & Marshall at noon.
The Division I championship game will be at 3 p.m. tomorrow at Byrd, preceded by the Division III title game at 12:30.
The Terps (12-1), who also were seeded second last year, are trying to become the first team to repeat as national champions in the 12-year history of the Division I tournament.
"[Tournament director] Gothard Lane told me at the beginning of the season that if my team wasn't here in the final four that my players would be ball girls," Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said. "So I relayed that to the captains and what's happened is that we have the opportunity to be here. It would have been a tough weekend [if we did not make it]."
The Terps have not dropped a contest in College Park since April 1989, a 34-game streak.
"We don't really tell our players anything about winning at home," said Timchal, whose squad has the longest winning streak in Division I (11). "It's exciting to be able to play at home, but there is also pressure. The stadium is also an unfamiliar environment for our team."
Maryland usually plays at smaller Denton Field but has won both games it has played at Byrd the past two years.
The Terps have not finished below second the past three years and have not lost a semifinal game in their past six appearances.
Maryland and Princeton are the youngest teams playing at Byrd. Each team has only two seniors.
Freshman goalie Erin O'Neill heads the young Tigers. Maryland is 39-5 when Mandy Stevenson, a three-year starter, starts in goal.
The Tigers (14-2) captured the first Ivy League title in school history and are led by the all-around play of Jenny Bristow (Roland Park). The junior midfielder is Princeton's second-leading scorer with 48 points and tops her team with 45 ground balls and 34 draw controls.
In Division III, Johns Hopkins (13-2) returns to the final four after a five-year absence. William Smith (14-1) has won 14 straight, averages 17.2 goals and features sophomore attack Amy Hoover, who has 91 points this season.
"I think we are both passing teams; it should be an exciting display of lacrosse," said Johns Hopkins coach Sally Beth Anderson. "I know we are the lower seed, but we have every expectation to be in the game the whole time. I think we are very strong defensively. I really feel we are going to give William Smith a good game."