COLLEGE PARK -- An afternoon of surprising twists at Byrd Stadium ended in tears for the Maryland women's lacrosse team yesterday.
Bogging down after a fast start, the Terrapins' bid for unprecedented back-to-back NCAA Division I titles dissolved with an improbable 7-6 loss to Princeton in a national semifinal. It was the Terps' first defeat in 11 semifinal games and it ended their 34-game home winning streak.
Kim Simons' goal with 29 seconds left was the game-winner after Princeton had tied it with 1:32 left on the second goal of the day by Baltimore's Jenny Bristow, a Roland Park Country School graduate.
Second-seeded Maryland (12-2) scored the first three goals of the game and led 5-1 but struggled the rest of the way as Princeton (15-2) slowed the Terps' transition game and double-teamed effectively in advancing to today's championship game against top-ranked Virginia, an 11-10 overtime winner over Harvard in the first semifinal.
"I think Princeton came in with nothing to loss, being the third seed," said Terps coach Cindy Timchal. "I think we may have had the burden of being defending champions and playing at home. In retrospect, I wish we had a second chance, but we don't."
The Terps got three goals from junior Besty Elder, giving her 54 for the season, one short of Mary Ann Oelgoetz's 1990 school record. Her last provided Maryland with a 6-5 lead with 12:18 to go. It was the Terps' only goal of the second half.
"We usually play batter in the second half than we do in the first half," said Maryland senior Kerstin Manning, fighting tears. "That wasn't the case today."
Simons, weakened by flu and a fever, took a nice pass from Melissa McCaffery and bounced her game-winner past goalie Mandy Stevenson.
Exhausted near the end, Simons said she had just told McCaffery not to pass her the ball just before the decisive goal. But she was wide open.
"I went to the emergency room Thursday night and a nurse said, 'I hope you'll stay home in bed for the next three days,' " Simons said. "I said, 'I'll be playing in 44 hours.'
"She said, 'No way.' I said, 'We'll see.' "
Said Princeton coach Chris Sailer: "I knew she'd play if she could walk or crawl out to the field. But I didn't plan to play her 60 minutes."
Princeton 3 4 -- 7
Maryland 5 1 -- 6