The NCAA women’s lacrosse Final Four has a definitive ACC flavor as three of the four teams in the semifinals are current members of the conference and the fourth used to be a member.
ACC rivals No. 2 North Carolina (16-2) meets No. 3 Duke (16-4) in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. ET, while No. 1 Maryland (19-1) takes on No. 4 Syracuse (16-7) in the second semifinal at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Maryland has won an NCAA-record 12 national championships in 31 tournament appearances. The Terrapins are making their seventh straight semifinal appearance while the Orange are in their fifth Final Four in the past sixth years. Duke, meanwhile, is making its seventh semifinal appearance ever. North Carolina won the 2013 national title and is making their eighth semifinal appearance, including their fifth in the past seven seasons.
With every team so experienced, Duke coach Kerstin Kimel believes the tournament is wide open.
“Anything can happen.Our sport is at the point, and I couldn’t say this 10 years ago, that there are so many good teams. To get to the final four, it’s harder and harder every year. But do I think the fact that Maryland lost makes everybody realize, ‘Hey, anything can happen in this tournament.”
Both semifinals are being held at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, and the games will be seen on ESPN3.
The championship game is slated for Sunday at 8:30 p.m. at PPL Park on ESPNU. The rest of the article will preview the two semifinal games.
No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 4 Syracuse
This game is a rematch of last year’s national championship game, which Maryland won 15-12 for their 11th national title. The Terrapins have owned the Orange in their series, winning 17 of the 18 meetings, including this year’s meeting (10-7). The Baltimore Sun reports that four of Maryland’s victories over Syracuse have come in the NCAA tournament.
The Terrapins have been ranked No. 1 in the country since the start of the season in both the IWLCA coaches’ poll and the Inside Lacrosse media poll, according to ESPNW. Maryland ran through the regular season en route to the Big Ten tournament crown in its inaugural season in the conference. However, the Terrapins did have their 27-game win streak snapped by Ohio State (11-10) in the Big Ten tournament semifinals.
Maryland possessed the fifth best offense and fifth best defense in the nation during the regular season, averaging 14.55 goals a game and surrendering 7.2 goals. The Terps are averaging 18 goals per game while limiting opponents to just 6.50 goals per game in their two NCAA tournament victories over UMass and Northwestern.
Junior Taylor Cummings leads the way for the Terrapins with a team-high 89 points. She also leads the team in assists (31), ground balls (40), draw controls (131), and turnovers forced (31). Freshman Megan Whittle has produced a team-high 64 goals. Senior goalkeeper Alex Fitzpatrick holds a 6.91 goals against average and a 46.4 save percentage.
Syracuse is 7-1 in its past eight games and earned an automatic spot in the NCAA after winning the ACC tournament title with wins over Boston College, Duke, and North Carolina. The Orange lost to all three teams during the regular season. Eleven of Syracuse’s 23 games have been decided by one goal.
The Orange have defeated Penn (13-10) and Loyola (10-7) in the NCAA tournament.
Junior Kayla Treanor, the ACC’s Player of the Year, leads the Orange with 57 goals and has produced 29 assists for 86 points — second most on the squad. Junior Halle Majorana is second on the team with 53 goals and leads the team with 36 assists. Senior Kaliah Kempney has controlled 186 draws.
Syracuse averages 12.9 goals a game but gives up 10.3 a contest. Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Richardson has a 9.98 goals against average and a 43.3 save percentage.
Final score: Maryland 10, Syracuse 8.
No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Duke
The Tar Heels and Blue Devils are meeting for the 31st time. North Carolina holds a slight edge in the series (16-14) after winning nine of the past 12 meetings, which includes a 12-6 win over Duke in the regular season.
Both teams possess a lot of offensive firepower and are solid defensively. The Tar Heels average 13.55 goals and give up 7.95 goals a contest while the Blue Devils average 12.65 goals and surrender 7.6 a contest.
Juniors Al Messinger and Sammy Jo Tracy leads the offensive attack for North Carolina. Messinger has a team-high 38 goals and leads the team with 54 points while Tracy has produced 37 goals and 42 points. Sophomore Molly Hendrick also tallied 30 goals. Sophomore goalkeeper Caylee Waters is 15-3 in 20 appearances and a 7.92 goals against average along with a 50.0 save percentage.
Duke, led by senior All-American Kerrin Mauer, has five players with 30 goals on the season. Mauer, who became the school’s all-time assists leader this season, has 43 goals and 29 helpers for a team-high 72 points. Fellow seniors Brigid Smith (33 goals, 19 assists), Katie Trees (33 goals, 21 assists), Taylor Trimble (36 goals, 10 assists), and freshman Kyra Harney (31 goals, 15 assists) also reached the 30-goal plateau.
Junior goaltender Kelsey Duryea has a 16-4 record with a 7.42 goals against average to go along with a 48.4 save percentage.
Final Score: North Carolina 16, Duke 7.
[Photo via ESPNW.com]