Team's top five scorers all hail from Maryland
The University of Maryland has long been a recruiting force in women's lacrosse, dominating its home state but also cherry-picking national talent and even plucking a select few of the sport's top players from overseas.
The program's signature player is Jen Adams, an Australian who propelled the Terrapins to the last four of their titles during an unprecedented seven-year NCAA championship reign (1995-2001) and remains the Division I career leader in points (445) and assists (178). The last time the Terps won an NCAA title, they had All-Americans from three different continents.
But Friday at Villanova, when Maryland (21-0) faces Syracuse (18-3) in the NCAA semifinals, the Terps will count heavily on homegrown talent. The Terps' top five goal scorers and nine of their 12 starters played at Maryland high schools.
|Maryland vs. Syracuse|
|When » Friday, 7:30 p.m.|
|Where » Villanova Stadium,|
"One of our goals here recruiting is we want to keep the best players in Maryland at Maryland," said coach Cathy Reese, who can point recruits to her own example as a player. Reese, a Mount Hebron graduate, had an All-American career in College Park, playing for national championship teams in each of her four seasons (1995-98).
This year, Reese has counted on a fast-breaking offense loaded with local products including seniors Alex Aust (Bullis), who is second in the nation in points (119) and goals (67), and Katie Schwartzman (Century), a three-time Tewaaraton Trophy finalist who ranks third in program history in goals scored (224).
Rounding out the attack are sophomore Brooke Griffin (South River), who has 46 goals and 21 assists, freshman Taylor Cummings (McDonogh), who has 38 goals, and sophomore Kristen Lamon (St. Mary's), who has 25 goals.
In addition, the team's top defender is senior All-American Iliana Sanza (St. Paul's). Junior Beth Glaros (Wilde Lake) is a rangy midfield weapon who has scored 23 goals. Senior Melissa Diepold (Perry Hall) is a savvy two-year starting defender. And senior Kasey Howard (Broadneck) has been a revelation in her first season as the starting goalie.
This is Maryland's fifth straight trip to the Final Four, but little was expected of the Terrapins in the preseason after graduating All-Americans Brittany Dipper (goalie) and Karri Ellen Johnson (attack). Reese said the team was miffed and collectively motivated by preseason polls, which slotted the Terps as low as eighth.
"Everyone questioned us at the beginning," Reese said. "For these guys too, it was, 'OK, let's go out, have some fun and see where that takes us.' "
The team's eight seniors, including five starters, all from Maryland high schools, are hoping to bookend their career with NCAA championships.
"We've been through a lot together," Schwartzman said. "We've won four ACC championships, won a national championship, lost a national championship game. We're trying to lead this team for one last hurrah."
Schwartzman did her part three months ago, scoring seven goals as Maryland won 19-11 at Syracuse. If the Terps get past the Orange, they will play either North Carolina (16-3), who the Terps beat twice this year, or formidable Northwestern (18-2), which has won seven of the last eight NCAA titles.