COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland women's lacrosse team won two battles yesterday on a soaked Ludwig Field.
The Terps fended off dangerous James Madison, 13-8, in the NCAA Division I quarterfinals and then resisted a strong temptation to talk about a third showdown this season with North Carolina in the semifinals Friday night at 8: 30 at UMBC Stadium.
"It doesn't matter who we play," said Maryland senior attacker Cathy Nelson, who had one goal and five assists yesterday. "Just bring it on."
Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said: "We're not commenting on North Carolina."
Timchal knows well that anything her players say about the Tar Heels can and will be held against Maryland in the emotional semifinal matchup.
The Terps (16-3), three-time defending national champions, have done almost everything right this season except beat the Tar Heels, who own 10-9 and 12-10 victories over Maryland.
The 12-10 loss came in the semifinals of the ACC tournament April 18 and was a shocking one for the Terps.
They went into that second matchup with the Tar Heels with an 11-game winning streak and were confident of atoning for the setback in the second game of the season.
It didn't happen, and that has left Maryland a third seed in this year's Division I tournament behind top-seeded Virginia and second-seeded North Carolina.
Yesterday, Maryland unleashed a balanced attack against sixth-seeded James Madison (11-8), which just wouldn't go away until the final four minutes of the game.
Terps senior midfielder and leading scorer Sasha Newmarch ended James Madison's hopes with 4: 09 left when she scored on a beautiful effort on the run from 10 yards off a pass from Nelson for a 13-8 lead.
It was the fifth assist of the day for Nelson, a product of Mount Hebron High who is seeking to go out with a string of seven high school and college championships.
Nelson continued her climb on the Maryland career statistics charts yesterday, moving into a fourth-place tie in the assists category with Karen MacCrate (76 each) and into fifth place in points (207).
Nine players collected points for Maryland, with sophomore midfielder Christie Jenkins scoring three goals and Newmarch, Noelle Mitchell, Quinn Carney and Allison Comito each contributing two.
Nelson set the tone for the day with assists on each of Maryland's first three goals of the day, producing a 3-0 lead.
But James Madison sophomore midfielder Jess Marion produced two of the game's next three goals on free-position shots to bring the Dukes back to a 4-2 deficit with 13: 59 left.
But Marion, a former South River three-sport sensation who was wearing a heavy brace on her right knee due to surgery last summer, seemed to tire after the quick start, and sophomore Amy Brew and junior Megan Riley led the Dukes' charge the rest of the game.
Brew scored three goals and Riley had two goals and an assist, including a free-position score with 4: 26 remaining in the first half that reduced Maryland's advantage to 6-5.
Jenkins responded 13 seconds later with a score that started a four-goal run by Maryland for a 10-5 lead with 20 minutes left in the game.
Brew was one of the many James Madison players who had trouble navigating the soggy Ludwig Field turf, and she said:
"I feel this was one of the worst fields we've played on. I believe we had more trouble with slipping than Maryland because we rely on all-out speed and they use stickwork to get the job done."
Brew's sister, Kate, had some first-half problems in goal, and was removed in favor of freshman Jen Corradini with 3: 13 left in the first half.
Corradini made 11 saves in 30 minutes to keep the Dukes within striking distance.
James Madison senior co-captain Aimee Vaughan, a former Dulaney High standout, said: "We knew we could have done it [won] if we hadn't had so much trouble catching the ball and dropping it so much. When you lose because of poor execution, it hurts even more."
Pub Date: 5/10/98