No team has ever beaten Maryland's women's lacrosse team three times in a single season and the Terrapins weren't about to let it happen in the national semifinals.
The No. 3 Terps (17-3) will play No. 1 Virginia for the championship tomorrow at 3 p.m. at UMBC Stadium. They beat Virginia, 11-8, in their only meeting this season.
Last night, the Terps closed out the hopes of the upstart Tar Heels (15-3) with unanswered goals from Quinn Carney (two) and Christie Jenkins in the final 7: 06.
The Terps, who had lost 10-9 and 12-10 to the Tar Heels this season, trailed by two goals early, and then scored six straight through the middle of the first half.
That was enough to hold off a Tar Heels rally that tied the game at 7. After Kristin Off scored the tying goal, the Tar Heels barely touched the ball again until Jenkins and Cathy Nelson had put the Terps back on top for good, 9-7.
The Terps' offense, led by senior All-Americans Nelson with four goals and Sascha Newmarch with three, found all the holes in the Carolina defense. The Tar Heels had given up 14 goals only once before -- also against Maryland two years ago.
But as good as the attack was, the defense was just as good. The Terps played terrific pressure defense all over the field and goalie Alex Kahoe made 14 saves, including several that snuffed any momentum the Heels managed to build.
"I was really proud of my defense and the defensive position and the pressure they put on the [Carolina] attack," said Kahoe, last year's Co-Atlantic Coast Conference Goalie of the Year. "It's up to them what kind of shots they allow. Today, they played awesome -- forcing them out and not allowing wide-open shots."
The defense frustrated North Carolina, which came into the game averaging 12.06 goals per game. Even its top guns, Erin McGinnis and Lori Pasquantonio -- former Mount Hebron High teammates with Nelson -- couldn't get anything going for long.
"It was really frustrating," said McGinnis. "We had a couple of good runs and Alex made some nice saves. It's hard when you work the ball down and don't get a shot or get a good shot and they stop it."
The Terps' attack made its critical run with four straight goals through the middle of the second half. Nelson scored twice in the run and her final goal of the game, on a feed from Newmarch, gave Maryland an 11-7 lead with 13: 24 to go.
The Tar Heels pulled to within 11-9 with 7: 34 left on goals from Gray MacNair and Pasquantonio, but they never got closer.
The Terps, who are making a record 19th appearance in the NCAA tournament and have won nine straight tournament games, denied the Tar Heels their first appearance in the title game. Only a third-year program, North Carolina has been to the final four the past two years.
The Terps, who will make their fifth straight appearance in the title game, had suffered their most recent loss to North Carolina on April 18 in the ACC tournament semifinals, 12-10.
In the ACC tournament, the Terps took an early lead and then squandered it. They did the same thing last night, losing the four-goal lead. But this time, they rallied.
"In the final four, you can't get down by three goals and expect to come back and we did," said Carolina coach Jenny Slingluff. "That was a very positive part of the game. We've been playing from behind a lot this season, but against a team with such great experience in the tournament, we might have been a little bit more troubled than we have been [when Maryland pulled ahead again]."
After falling behind by 7-3 late in the first half, the Tar Heels rallied to tie at 7 on Off's goal with 22: 33 left.
The tie lasted just eight seconds, with Jenkins putting Maryland back on top.
In the first half, the Tar Heels scored two quick goals and led 3-1 before Newmarch scored three straight. She hit the high, right corner to give the Terps their first lead, 4-3, with 13: 20 left in the half.
Nelson made it 5-3 when she converted a difficult angle, rolling back inside her defender on the left edge of the arc. The roll continued with goals from Noelle Mitchell and Kristin Sommar.
The Tar Heels came back to tie with their only significant run of the night on two goals from Off and another from McGinnis, who each finished with three goals.
Pub Date: 5/16/98