May 16, 2009

Final Four-Bound Terps Stick It to Naysayers

by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Second-seeded Maryland rallied from an early 4-0 deficit to defeat the seventh-seeded Syracuse, 12-9, in the NCAA Division I quarterfinals Saturday.

The Terps, who are now 21-0, will advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2003 to face ACC rival North Carolina, which defeated Notre Dame.

"My whole philosophy, it's all about Maryland. It's about us doing what we do best. For us, we can generate shots on offense," said head coach Cathy Reese.

Maryland initially struggled to communicate on defense, allowing the Orange to build its four-goal lead in less than eight minutes. But sophomore attacker Sarah Mollison (3g, 1a) began the comeback at 20:40, and tied it at 4-4 at 11:02 in the first half with a bounce shot on the crease.

By halftime, the Terps led 7-6 and had outshot the Orange 23-11.

"I trusted my teammates and had faith we'd get the next draw," said Mollison.

For all the firepower of both attacks, humble ground balls (9-5) and draw controls (16-8) gave the Terps the win. In a game with five ties and three lead changes, Maryland dominated on 50-50 balls, hustling to endlines and turnovers with vicious determination.

If not for Syracuse sophomore goalie Liz Hogan's 10 saves and a standout performance by senior Katie Rowan (5g, 2a) in her last collegiate game, the final score might have been more lopsided.

Rowan assisted fellow senior Megan Mosenson on a goal with 1:48 to play to close the gap to two goals, but the Terps controlled the subsequent draw and ran out the clock.

"If you don't have the ball, it's hard to make things happen. That's number one, draw controls and ground balls. They outhustled us today in that area," said Syrcuse coach Gary Gait.

Maryland took the lead for good on Caitlyn McFadden's free position shot at 12:56 in the second half. The senior, who led the Terps with four goals, added some insurance just 36 seconds later on a point blank shot to the high corner from the right alley. "I hadn't been sticking my shots in the first half so I was trying to pick better shots. I was going hard to the goal, and I knew I could stick them," said McFadden.

In addition to sticking her shots, McFadden and the rest of the Terps stuck it to the naysayers who said their team was too young and graduation-depleted to win the ACC, much less contend for the national championship.

"Why are you talking about the past?" joked Reese in response to questions about comparisions to the 2008 team, as well as her history with Gait (an assistant at Maryland during her playing and early coaching career) and the weight of assuming legendary coach Cindy Timchal's legacy.

Reese's press conferences provide plenty of entertainment. In response to a reporter's question that quoted the official draw statistics, Reese said, "See, that's why I always like coming to these things. You find out all the stats."

All joking aside, the coach's optimism infused the team's play during the brief downturn against Syracuse and throughout the season.

"We always knew we could do this," said Reese.

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