May 28, 2010

By Todd Karpovich
Special to NCAA.com

TOWSON, Md. - After Syracuse pulled within three goals of top-seeded Maryland midway through the second half of Friday's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse semifinal, the Terrapins' offense exploded for six consecutive goals in a span of 4 minutes and 15 seconds and coasted to the national championship game for the 15th time.

Maryland has worked all season to add to its NCAA-record nine national titles and it took another big step with the 14-5 victory over the Orange at Towson University.

Maryland advanced to Sunday's title game for the first time since 2001and meets either North Carolina and five-time defending champion Northwestern.

"I thought tonight was a very exciting game," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. "It was a game of spurts and I was just really proud of our girls and the effort they put forth. We did have a drought there for awhile when we were having unnecessary turnovers. But this team found a way to battle back."

Caitlyn McFadden led seven Maryland scorers with four goals, while Karri Ellen Johnson had two goals and tied a career-high with three assists. Christina Dove and Michelle Tumolo each scored twice for the Orange (16-6), who were outshot 28-19. The Terps (20-1) also increased their unbeaten streak against Syracuse to 10 games.

The Terps led 7-2 after dominating the first half. Sarah Mollison's second goal of the game increased the lead to six just two minutes into the second half. However, goals by Dove and Tumolo cut the margin to four with 16:39 remaining in the game. Tumolo scored again with 11:23 left and the Orange had some momentum.

The Terps, however, settled down and dominated possession. Katie Schwarzmann, and Johnson scored less than a minute apart and Maryland increased the lead to 10-5 with 5:32 remaining. McFadden collected two more goals and Kristy Black added another and Maryland led by eight with 3:26 remaining. Alex Aust scored the Terps' final goal with 2:12 left.

"We were just making some mistakes, but we kept fighting and kept our heads up," McFadden said. "We were able to bounce back."

Another key for the Terps was winning 13 draws, compared to 18 for Syracuse. The Terps also forced 27 turnovers and committed 14.

Tee Ladouceur, Syracuse's leading scorer, entered the game with 43 goals and 45 assists. She was held scoreless but had three assists against a Maryland defense led by Karissa Taylor. The five goals was a season-low for Syracuse.

Maryland took a 2-0 lead with 15:11 left in the first half on goals by Mollison and Schwarzmann. After the Orange cut the deficit on a Halley Quillinan goal, the Terrapins began to take over the game.

Maryland scored the next four goals, including one by Merrifield off a free position and another by Johnson in 30 seconds.

"It was a tough game, but we had a good run," Syracuse coach Gary Gait said. "We did what we needed to do to get here. Unfortunately, we did not do real well in the first half. It was a tough road to battle back, but we never gave up. They are a great team. They are super athletic and we knew we would have to play a great game."

Mollison's second goal gave Maryland a 7-1 advantage with 5:21 remaining in the first half. Dove's goal broke a 12:19 scoring drought for Syracuse and the Orange trailed 7-2 at the half. The Terps outshot Syracuse 17-9 in the opening half. Syracuse was the first unseeded team to reach the NCAA semifinals since Vanderbilt and Georgetown in 2004.