Weekend Preview: Conference tourneys in full swing for top-10 teams
Atlantic Coast Conference:
No. 8 Duke vs. No. 1 Maryland
No. 3 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Syracuse
The first semifinal is a rematch of a game that happened less than a week ago, In that game, Maryland went to Durham, N.C. and picked up a 5-1 win. That gave the Terps a 6-0 record this season in the ACC. Maryland has won the conference title nine times with the last coming in 2010. But this will be its last chance for the Terps to get an ACC title as they will be moving to the Big Ten next season.
Jill Witmer had a team-high 15 goals while Maxine Fluharty had 11. Anna Dessoye was second on the team in points with 33 thanks to a team-high 15 assists. Natalie Hunter had a 1.04 goals-against average and a .810 saves percentage.
The first team to get a shot at the regular-season champions will be Duke, who advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 win against nationally fourth-ranked Virginia on Thursday. Emmie Le Marchand led the way for the Blue Devils with two points. including a goal. If the Blue Devils are to take down Maryland just six days after losing to the Terps, they wil have to get out to a faster start. Maryland put up 13 shots and seven penalty corners compared to six and one for Duke.
Le Marchand leads the team with both 12 goals and nine assists. Her 33 points are more than twice as many as second-leading scorer, Jessica Buttinger, who has 16. Lauren Blazing, who has started all 19 games, has a 1.40 goals-against average and a .794 saves percentage.
Despite winning 18 of the 30 ACC tournaments contested, North Carolina has not won one since 2007. The Tar Heels took the first step on Thursday when they knocked off Wake Forest in the quarterfinals. Both Nina Notman and Charlotte Craddock had three-point efforts to help the Tar Heels knock off the Demon Deacons. Like Duke, North Carolina gets a shot in the semifinals to avenge a loss last weekend. On Saturday, North Carolina became the 45th visitor in a row to lose at J.S. Coyne Stadium.
Casey Di Nardo has a slight lead for the team lead in goals with 13, while Notman has 12. Emily Wold's 21 assists moved her into a tie with Notman for the lead in points. Sassi Ammer has a 1.46 goals-against average and a .733 saves percentage.
Making its first ACC tournament appearance, Syracuse finds itself one step away from playing for the title. This will be the fourth time in the past two seasons that the two teams will meet and the Orange have won two of the first three meetings. The last time the two teams met, Sarah Kerly scored the game's lone goal as UNC was shut out for just the second time since 2009. In the game, Jess Jecko only faced three shots -- all of which came in the first half -- and the Tar Heels were held to four penalty corners.
Lauren Brooks (12 goals), Emma Russell (11 goals) and Leonie Geyer (10) all lead the Orange in goals while both Geyer and Brooks reached double figures in assists. Those two are tied for the team lead with 32 points on the year. Jecko has a 1.65 goals-against average and a .728 save percentage.
No. 7 Connecticut vs. Temple
No. 14 Louisville vs. No. 5 Old Dominion
Connecticut looks to pick up its second consecutive Big East tournament title, and is the top seed in this year's tournament. Its first step comes against Temple, a team the Huskies beat 7-0 last Saturday. That was the game the Huskies claimed a share of the conference regular-season title. Forward Marie Elena Bolles made the most of her final regular-season home game, scoring a career-high four goals and falling just one short of the school record.
Chloe Hunnable edged out Bolles to pick up the team lead for regular-season goals with 18. Roisin Upton also finished with double-digit goals (11) and points (36). Sarah Mansfield, who had eight shutouts this season, had a 1.34 goals-against average and a .745 saves percentage.
Old Dominion is riding an 11-game winning streak -- the longest in the nation -- into the Big East tournament and has not lost since a 3-2 overtime decision to Louisville. That just happens to be the Monarchs' first opponent in the tournament this season. In the first meeting this season, Sarah Breen scored with less than two minutes remaining to send it into overtime but Erin Schneidtmiller scored less than a minute into the extra session.
Rosario Villagra has the team lead with 14 goals and 13 assists for a total of 41 points. Breen is second on the team with both 12 goals and 27 points. In cage, Megan Hept has a 1.76 goals-against average and a .752 save percentage.
No. 6 Penn State vs. Iowa
Penn State will face Iowa in the first semifinal match of the Big Ten tournament as the Lions will attempt to win their Big Ten-leading seventh Big Ten tournament crown in program history. A title would also be the third in a row for Penn State. The Nittany Lions defeated the Hawkeyes 2-1 earlier this season in Iowa City. The Blue and White used second-half goals from Jenna Chrismer and Brittany Grzywacz to power the come-from-behind victory.
Taylor Herold has a slight edge for team lead in goals with 11, one more than Grzywacz. Herold also has one more assist on the season, giving her a three-point edge in total points. Kylie Licata has a 1.29 goals-against average and a .720 save percentage.
No. 10 Stanford vs. Longwood
Stanford looks to move one step closer to a NorPac title with a 5-1 victory against Davidson on Thursday. A win on Friday against Longwood would move the Cardinal into Saturday's title game. Alex McCawley led the way for the Cardinal on Thursday with two goals while Maddie Secco, Kelsey Harbin and Jessica Chisholm also scored. Stanford did not face Longwood this season.
Hope Burke led the Cardinal with eight goals while Harbin added seven. Harbin's seven assists gave her a one-point lead against Burke for the team lead. Dulcie Davies had a standout season, with a .82 goals-against aveage and .828 save percentage.