The view from Alex Kahoe's crease is clear.
There is no past here. No Maryland women's lacrosse tradition. No national championship. No record-breaking winning streak.
Only the moment. One goalie vs. one ball.
Eight meters away, the Virginia player sets up for a free-position shot. With 25 seconds remaining in the game, Maryland leads 6-5. Kahoe, a redshirt freshman from Villanova, Pa., faces the biggest play of her first college season.
"Afterward, people were saying, 'Oh, my God, Alex, what were you thinking? So many things must have gone through your mind.' To tell you the truth, nothing was going through my mind except save this ball. I wasn't thinking about the score. I wasn't thinking that if I let it in, it'd be tied. I wasn't thinking about all of the bad things that could happen. I was just thinking stop the shot."
Instinctively, Kahoe snares the shot. Maryland wins. The streak continues.
Kahoe is mastering the ability to live in the moment -- to face one shot at a time, as she did in that March 19 game at Virginia, instead of trying to face the entire Terrapins women's lacrosse tradition. She must block all of that out or it will overwhelm her.
Kahoe not only is protecting a 9-0 record going into today's 2 p.m. game against No. 4 James Madison at Byrd Stadium, she's also trying to preserve an unprecedented run. The No. 1 Terrapins have won 45 consecutive games -- more than any men's or women's Division I lacrosse program. They are also the first team in NCAA Division I women's lacrosse history to record back-to-back national titles and back-to-back unbeaten, untied seasons.
The Terrapins, who have won five national titles and made a record 17 appearances in the national tournament, have been the team of the '90s. In this decade, they have won three NCAA titles, finished second three times and third once while posting a 112-8 record. Since the program began in 1974, they have compiled a 294-75-3 record.
And if the weight of that history isn't enough, Kahoe has stepped into a position that has been perennially excellent at Maryland. The Terrapins have had an All-America goalie five of the past seven years -- Jamie Brodsky (1995, 1996), Mandy Stevenson (1992, 1993) and Jessica Wilk (1990).
None of that -- nor the fact that the three top goalies in the nation took their teams to the Final Four last year -- has escaped Kahoe's notice.
"I did feel pressure," Kahoe said, "but Jamie helped by talking to me a lot about it. She told me, 'People are going to say you have big shoes to fill, but you can't fill anyone else's shoes. Don't let people say you should play like me. You have to make your own path.' "
Kahoe has done exactly that, already taking her place among the country's top goalies. The latest Division I statistics rank her fourth in save percentage (.696) and second in goals against (4.36). She leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in both categories.
After just five starts, Kahoe was named the ACC Player of the Week. In addition to the last-minute stop and 10 saves against Virginia, she had 17 saves against Temple and seven against Vanderbilt to compile a .772 save percentage for the week ending March 22.
"She's come up with some big saves in big games," Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said. "She's stepped into that role as if she's an upperclassperson ready to play."
Kahoe came to Maryland ready to play last year. After an All-America season at the Agnes Irwin School, she did not want to sit for a year. It took her about half the season to see the benefits.
"Coming here and sitting behind Jamie was really hard," Kahoe said, "but I think it was the best thing I could have done. I got to learn from an awesome goalie. It would have been a huge step, maybe too big a step, to go from high school to the No. 1 college team."
Redshirting also gave Kahoe a chance to get to know her teammates. She admitted to being reluctant to tell the veterans what to do. The extra time gave her a chance to get comfortable with them and gave them a chance to learn to trust her.
"Now she's always talking, telling us where the ball is," senior midfielder Ginette Chelius said. "At halftime when we're talking about defense, she steps up and says, 'This is what I'm seeing,' which is great because she can see the whole field. She's definitely stepped up as a leader."
Pub Date: 4/05/97