COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland's fourth-ranked women's lacrosse team missed a golden opportunity last night to win its first Atlantic Coast Conference game of the season, falling to a young Virginia team, 14-9, at Maryland's Lacrosse and Field Hockey Complex.
After dropping a close game to No. 2 Duke, 9-7, 10 days ago, the Terrapins had hoped to reverse their fortunes against one of the youngest Cavaliers teams in recent years, but No. 9 Virginia dominated possession, especially off the draw. Virginia (4-1, 1-0 ACC) has now won six straight games against the Terrapins, who last won a meeting in April 2003.
The Terrapins (3-3, 0-2) turned the ball over too many times at crucial points last night and only a strong performance by sophomore goalie Allie Buote, who finished with eight saves, kept the game close early on.
After Brooke Richards tied the game at 5 in the first half, the Terrapins went more than 16 minutes without a goal as the Cavaliers increased their lead to 10-5 with 16:54 remaining in the game. Most of the rest of the game was back and forth.
The Cavaliers scored the first three goals of the second half - all capitalizing on Maryland turnovers.
"This was a completely missed opportunity," said Terps junior defender Becky Clipp. "It's taking care of the ball. Whether you lose the ball in the midfield or you lose it on attack, we need to be able to get it back."
Virginia won 15 of 25 draws, 15 of the first 20. Maryland turned the ball over 21 times and was outshot 32-24.
The Cavaliers started five freshmen after graduating six starters from last year's NCAA runner-up team that lost to Northwestern in the championship. That wasn't apparent last night as the Cavaliers took the lead and played strong defense the rest of the way.
Virginia jumped out to a 2-0 lead on two Whit Hagerman goals in the first five minutes. Maryland played catch-up the rest of the way, tying the game four times in the half. After Krista Pellizzi fed Richards for a 5-5 tie with 1:28 left before halftime, the Cavaliers polished off the half with two goals in the final 1:02.
Freshman Blair Weymouth scored two of her five goals in the first 3:21 of the half to boost Virginia's lead to 9-5. Cavaliers keeper Ginger Miles then saved free-position shots from Maryland's Katie Doolittle and Mollie Reese before Tyler Leachman scored off a loose ball to give the Cavaliers a 10-5 lead.
"Our defense stepped up," said Virginia coach Julie Myers. "They came up big with the stick checks and some great double teams. Ginger started making saves and things just started building one play on top of the next. Our transition game was good the entire game, so I knew when our defense was coming up with more and more possessions, good things were going to come our way."
Pellizzi's goal with 15:19 left cut the lead to 10-6, but the Terps would get no closer although they matched each of the next three goals. Pellizzi finished with two goals, and Delia Cox had three.
For the Terps, the loss came on the heels of a 12-9 victory over Richmond, which had upset Virginia, 8-7, three days before playing Maryland.
"It was disappointing on our part," said Terps coach Cindy Timchal. "Uncharacteristically, we turned the ball over in critical situations. We just have to move on and figure it out."
The Terps now face two unranked teams, Brown and Old Dominion, before hosting another final four team, No. 7 Dartmouth, on March 21.
Virginia 7 7 - 14
Maryland 5 4 - 9
Goals: V-Weymouth 5, Hagerman 4, O'Malley 3, Leachman, Wasilewski; M-Cox 3, Pellizzi 2, Richards 2, Magor, Kasper. Assists: V-Lieb 3, Wasilewski 2, Weymouth, Lazarus; M-Pellizzi 2.Saves: V-Miles 7; M-Buote 8. A: 441.