Scouting a power-packed final four
The 2014 NCAA women's lacrosse final four is a familiar lineup featuring perennial national contenders. Maryland, Syracuse and Northwestern all competed in the 2013 final four, but reigning national champion North Carolina was eliminated in the third round this year by Virginia. Let's take a look at the matchups before the teams face off Friday at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium in Baltimore.
No. 2 Syracuse (20-2) vs. No. 6 Virginia (12-8), 5 ET
Head-to-head: This will be their second meeting this season. They met in Charlottesville on Feb. 23, with the Orange winning 18-14. Virginia leads the overall series 11-5.
Tournament results: First round: bye; second round: def. Stony Brook 13-6; third round: def. (7) Boston College 11-9.
Orange's season: This is their third consecutive trip to the final four. It's the first year the program has notched 20 wins.
Orange's threats: Syracuse boasts two of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, given to the most outstanding college lacrosse player, in senior attacker Alyssa Murray and sophomore attacker Kayla Treanor. Murray was awarded first-team All-ACC honors for her 88 points this season, fifth-most in the country. Treanor leads the nation in scoring with 107 points and is second in goals at 73. She was named a first-team All-American in 2013 as a freshman.
Tournament results: First round: bye; second round: def. Princeton 13-11; third round: def. (3) North Carolina 10-9.
Cavaliers' season: This is their first trip to the final four since 2007 and their 14th appearance in program history. The Cavaliers had a shaky start, going 4-6 to open the season, but they rebounded to win eight of their last 10, including four wins against top-10 teams.
Cavaliers' threats: Senior goalkeeper Liz Colgan is seventh in the country in saves per game at 9.75. She has a season total of 195, third-most in the country. Senior attacker Liza Blue and junior attacker Courtney Swan lead the team in scoring, totaling 55 and 53 points, respectively.
No. 1 Maryland: (21-1) vs. No. 5 Northwestern (14-6), 7:30 ET
Head-to-head: Soon-to-be Big Ten rivals, these two teams have not faced off since Northwestern defeated Maryland 9-7 in the NCAA semifinals in 2012. The Wildcats ended up winning the national title. The past three times these teams have faced each other have been in the final four, with the winner also winning the national championship. Against common opponents in 2014, Maryland's record was 10-1; Northwestern was 5-2. Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller was a standout lacrosse player as a student at Maryland.
Tournament results: First round: bye; second round: def. (3) Penn 13-5; third round: def. (9) Duke 15-8.
Terrapins' season: This is Maryland's 30th appearance in the final four, the most in NCAA history. It is looking to extend a nearly perfect season after winning its sixth consecutive ACC championship.
Terrapins' threats: Sophomore midfielder Taylor Cummings and junior defender Megan Douty are also two of the five Tewaaraton finalists. Cummings has 59 goals, and Maryland has outscored its opponents 326-173. Douty was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and has helped Maryland hold opponents to 7.86 goals per game, the ninth-strongest defense in the country. Maryland's offense is ranked fourth, averaging 14.82 goals per game.
Tournament results: First round: bye; second round: def. (16) Louisville 11-8; third round: def. (4) Florida 12-11 in OT.
Wildcats' season: This is Northwestern's 10th straight final four appearance. The Wildcats are seeking their eighth national title. They lost in the American Lacrosse Conference final to No. 3-ranked Florida 9-8.
Wildcats' threats: They are led by a dominant senior class. Midfielder Christy Turner has scored at least one goal in each of her past 10 games. Fellow attacker Alyssa Leonard, who recently earned All-American accolades, leads the NCAA in all-time draw controls at 466, 160 from this season alone. Northwestern has faced 10 top-10 opponents this season, winning seven.