North Carolina comes into tonight's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse final four with a large part of its attack centered on two former All-Metro players of the year - Kellie Thompson, of St. Mary's and Erin McInnes of Roland Park.
Thompson was the area's best as a junior in 1997 and McInnes edged her out in their senior year. Now, they're combining for five goals and nearly two assists per game for the Atlantic Coast Conference champions.
Thompson has been the go-to player, scoring 62 goals this season to break her own single-season record. She also holds the record for career goals (169).
McInnes has been the playmaker and primary feeder, setting the school record for assists (25) last season. She has 17 assists and 31 goals this season.
Thompson and McInnes are among 28 Baltimore-area women playing in the final four. Eleven play for Carolina.
Healthy this time
Princeton's Theresa Sherry can't wait to get her second chance at the final four after a sprained ankle forced her to watch most of the Tigers' 14-7 semifinal loss to Maryland a year ago.
Sherry, a Bryn Mawr graduate, sprained the ankle in a freak mishap while celebrating her third goal in the first 15 minutes of the Tigers' quarterfinal victory over Dartmouth. She jumped up and came down on a teammate's foot. After that, she could barely run.
"I did play in the semifinal," said Sherry, "but I was on line attack. I had a lot of tape and two braces and it felt like I didn't really play. I sort of have regrets about not being at 100 percent, so I feel this year, it's almost like my first time in the final four."
The Sun's 2000 Female Athlete of the Year is enjoying an exceptional sophomore year. An All-Ivy League selection and Mid-Atlantic regional All-American, Sherry is now the second leading scorer for the Tigers with 37 goals and 10 assists.
"She's a competitor," said Tigers coach Chris Sailer. "She can raise the game of everyone around her. She's one of those kids who inspires you on the field with how she plays. She's involved in all aspects of the game - offense, defense, transition. She's had a break-out year."
Every player named to The Sun's 1998 All-Metro team played for a team that made this year's NCAA tournament. Five are in the final four - Thompson, McInnes and Betsy Gaines (Roland Park), Princeton's Kim Smith (Bryn Mawr) and Cornell's Jaimee Reynolds (Towson).
Reynolds earned her sixth Ivy League Player of the Week honor after contributing seven goals in the 14-4 victory over seven-time defending champion Maryland on Sunday. The Ivy League Player of the Year has scored at least one point in all 64 games of her career and is the Big Red's all-time leading scorer.
Princeton is the only team in this year's field to have previously won a national crown. The Tigers were the last team other than Maryland to win the title, in 1994.
The candidates for the Tewaaraton Trophy, awarded to the best player in the women's college game, have been narrowed to five: Georgetown's Erin Elbe, Princeton's Rachael Becker, North Carolina's Christine McPike and Virginia's Lauren Aumiller (Notre Dame Prep) and Tiffany Schummer (St. Mary's).