April 9, 2011

Minus KEJ, Maryland Still Can't Be Stopped

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay

Senior attacker Sarah Mollison had a goal and an assist in Maryland's 12-9 victory Saturday over North Carolina, the assist moving her into third place all-time among Terps feeders.

© Greg Shemitz

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- People use a lot of flattering words to describe Maryland – dazzling, unstoppable and relentless, to list a few.

But the adjective that most accurately describes the secret to the Terps' current 23-game winning streak is less hyperbolic and more basic: they are consistent. They play their game, even when facing a high-scoring ACC rival like North Carolina. They play their game, even when their best player is on the bench.

They play, and they win.

"Our preparation is pretty much the same every game. We just play Maryland lacrosse," said junior keeper Brittany Dipper.

Maryland claimed its latest victory in a closely fought game versus the Tar Heels, 12-9, before a crowd of 1,569 in College Park. Junior midfielder Karri Ellen Johnson, Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Player of the Year, sat out her second consecutive game with a concussion sustained in the Terps' March 29 game versus Towson. In her absence, the midfield came alive, with four-goal performances from senior Laura Merrifield and sophomore Katie Schwarzmann.

"That was an intense game. Karri Ellen Johnson is a huge part of the team, but I think our team reacted to it really well," said Maryland head coach Cathy Reese. "We started the season without Laura, and now we're without Karri Ellen."

Merrifield, who has missed four games this season due to injury, opened the scoring with a bounce shot that skipped past North Carolina goalie Lauren Maksym (two saves). The two teams traded goals throughout the first half, tying the score five different times. But Maryland never trailed.

The Tar Heels used nifty passing and sharp cuts to penetrate the Terps' top-notch defense, but Dipper (seven saves) came up with some spectacular stops. Senior attacker Corey Donohoe paced North Carolina with three goals and four assists.

"We're just worrying about us, getting the little things right, and really communicating with each other," said Schwarzmann.

Senior midfielder Brandi Jones and freshman midfielder Beth Glaros took over the draw in Johnson's absence. While the Terps technically had just 10 draw controls to North Carolina's 13, the Tar Heels had trouble controlling the ball between the lines under the pressure of Maryland's ride. The Terps won the ground ball battle, 16-9.

"You can't win possessions against them and then give it up, especially without a good shot," said Carolina head coach Jenny Levy.

After a slightly tentative first period in which the Tar Heels' defense frustrated the Terps' run-and-gun offense, Maryland began the second half with a three-goal run in just 2:40. The small scoring burst effectively put the game out of reach for North Carolina, and the Terps cruised to their 13th straight win this season.

The personnel was slightly different, but the confidence and single-mindedness were the same.

"They played their game," said Levy. "Does Maryland ever not play their game?"

News and Notes

Senior attacker Sarah Mollison had one goal and one assist for the Terps. The assist gave her 111 career assists, moving her to third all-time in Maryland's record books. Previously she had been in a three-way tie at 110 with current assistant coach Quinn Carney and 2010 Tewaaraton winner Caitlyn McFadden... Before sitting out today's game and Maryland's 16-4 win over Penn on April 2, Karri Ellen Johnson had started all 66 games of her career.

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