After all, Maryland's veteran attack scores 13.75 goals a game and Virginia's experienced defense allows just 5.74.
But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the final chapter of the season likely will be as much a tale of young players who grew up quickly.
Sure, Maryland has some great attack players in seniors Sascha Newmarch and Cathy Nelson (Mount Hebron), who combined for seven goals in Friday night's 14-9 semifinal victory over No. 2 North Carolina. Fourteen tied a record that Maryland set two years ago for the most goals scored against the Tar Heels.
And, the Cavaliers have great defenders in seniors Peggy Boutilier (Roland Park), Kara Ariza and goalie Heather Castle (Notre Dame Prep), who stifled the nation's top offense in a 10-7 semifinal win over No. 4 Dartmouth. Seven tied Dartmouth's lowest output of the season.
But both teams have relied on freshmen and sophomores to fill key roles. At 3 p.m. this afternoon at UMBC Stadium, those youngsters will have considerable say as to whether Maryland wins a fourth straight national title or whether Virginia beats the Terps for the first time since March 23, 1995.
In the regular-season meeting, the Terrapins beat the Cavaliers, 11-8, in College Park. But that was on March 18 and Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said it doesn't mean a lot right now.
"When we played Virginia, it was early," she said, "and when you see games such as NBA games now in the playoffs, every time two teams play against each other, it's a different game. We're just going to prepare as well as we can."
A lot of the preparation has already been done -- just by getting the youngsters so much game experience. All have proven themselves tournament tough.
Maryland has had a young team all along while the Cavaliers have gotten a little younger since losing top attack players Beth Potter and Mia Mooney to torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
"You have to overcome a lot to get this far," said Timchal. "We've been fortunate enough to keep our starting unit together. At this time of year, you just have to persevere with the injuries. Virginia's had some hard luck, but they're in the national championship final."
Terps freshmen Jen Adams, Quinn Carney and Meredith Egan, give the Terps exceptional depth on attack. Adams (26 goals, 16 assists) and Carney (28, 10) rank third and fourth on the Terps' scoring chart behind Newmarch (47, 40) and Nelson (54, 25).
Even more impressive developments have come on defense where sophomores Kristin Sommar, Christie Jenkins and Tonia Porras have meshed well with seniors Kathleen Lund (John Carroll) and Helena Herrmann. Backed by sophomore goalie Alex Kahoe, they allow just 8.3 goals a game.
For the Atlantic Coast Conference champion Cavaliers, freshmen Mills Hook (St. Paul's) and Lacey Aumiller (Notre Dame Prep) are among the top scorers behind Boutilier, the ACC Player of the Year.
Hook (26, 13) is the ACC Rookie of the Year. Aumiller (18, 7), who stepped into the starting lineup three weeks ago after Mooney was injured, scored four goals and had an assist against Dartmouth.
Sophomores Amy Fromal, Meredith Elwell, Kelly Allenbach and Stephy Samaras (Annapolis) start or see considerable action in the Cavaliers' midfield or defense.
"Both teams have gotten better," said Timchal. "For us, the huge thing was getting over having younger players. We've been focusing on playing better as a team, and I think Virginia's been doing the same, so it should be a great game."
Pub Date: 5/17/98