MARYLAND 14, GEORGETOWN 13
BALTIMORE Georgetown played about as well as a lacrosse team could against the undefeated Maryland Terrapins, but the Terps came away from the NCAA women’s championship game just as they had in every contest this season and every tournament title game since 1995 as winners.
When attacker Allison Comito’s shot from eight feet rippled the back of the net 2:52 into sudden-death overtime yesterday, Maryland players and coaches spilled onto Homewood Field and piled in front of the Georgetown goal, celebrating their 14-13 victory and the seventh straight title.
On the game-winning goal, Comito took a pass from Tori Wellington directly in front of the net and whistled a high shot past Hoyas goalie Bowen Holden to give the Terps (23-0) their 10th NCAA title overall before 3,535.
“We wanted to be better than the 2000 team,” Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said of last year’s 21-1 squad. “I think we proved that today.”
The goal left Georgetown’s Holden inconsolable and the rest of her teammates teary and struggling to recover from the loss. Georgetown never led in the game, but the Hoyas had poured everything into their first NCAA tournament title game appearance.
“I really believed we were going to win,” Georgetown coach Kim Simons said. “When you go into overtime with Maryland, it’s a pretty tough [situation]. We wanted to finish it in regulation.”
Georgetown (17-3), which lost twice to the Terps this season, made the Terps work hard for the victory. The Hoyas put together a stunning comeback, rallying from an 8-1 first-half deficit to tie the game at 12-12 with 5:51 to play.
Georgetown controlled possession for nearly all of the final 4:06 of regulation but could not beat Terps goaltender Alex Venechanos. Hoyas attacker Sheehan Stanwick, who scored 73 goals in the regular season, had two free-position shot opportunities in the last 4:50 but was denied both times by Venechanos.
“I was confident the whole game,” said Venechanos, whose 14 saves included eight in the second half. “I knew if I had the opportunity to put my team at an advantage, I would.”
Said Wellington: “I really can’t explain how big she came up today.”
The Terps needed Venechanos’ heroics. After falling behind by seven goals with 11:10 to play in the first half, Georgetown dug in and mounted a comeback, scoring the last three goals of the half to cut their deficit to 9-6.
Maryland looked a little frustrated near the end of the half. After getting sent off for receiving a yellow card two seconds before halftime, senior midfielder Quinn Carney threw her stick down in disgust and slumped on the bench.
Maryland dominated draw controls in the first half 11-5, but the Hoyas stayed even in second-half draws, held possession more and kept the pressure on the Terps behind Erin Elbe’s six goals and a tighter defense.
But as it had been all season, Maryland was up to the challenge. Freshman Kelly Coppedge scored three goals, including one in the first overtime that put the Terps up 13-12. However, Elbe answered 87 seconds later to tie the score and send it to sudden death.
Georgetown had possession with under a minute to play in the three-minute first sudden death session when defender Kerri Mulligan knocked the ball away from Stanwick with 42 seconds left. The Terps worked the ball around until double-teamed NCAA all-time leading scorer Jen Adams (one goal, four assists) passed to Wellington. Wellington then found Comito, and Maryland had another championship.
“There were times when things weren’t looking so well,” Timchal said. “We wanted to keep playing no matter what happened. When the going got tough, we really pulled together defensively.”
Notes Maryland’s Courtney Martinez was named tournament MVP, while the Terps’ Adams, Carney, Coppedge and Wellington and Georgetown’s Elbe and Stanwick were named to the all-tournament team… . Timchal moved into first place in career coaching victories with 268. She is now one ahead of William Smith’s Pat Genovese.