- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 19, 2003

CHARLOTTESVILLE A broken hand didn't prevent Kevin Cassese from helping Duke make its case to the NCAA tournament committee last night.
The midfielder scored three goals and teammate Matt Rewkowski added three as fourth-seeded Duke stunned top-seeded Maryland 7-6 in the ACC tournament semifinals at Klockner Stadium.
The Blue Devils (8-5), who won the last two ACC tournaments, will play the winner of last night's late North Carolina-Virginia game tomorrow at 3 p.m.
"Every year we've had to [step up]," said Cassese, who has been bothered off and on this season by a broken hand. "It hasn't been a choice. It seems we put ourselves in the same situation every year and kind of force ourselves to show up."
The Terrapins (7-3) lost their second in a row and were bounced from the ACC tournament by Duke for the third straight year.
Much like North Carolina had done earlier in the season to the Terps, Duke dominated possession for much of the first half, though not entirely by design. Both teams were forced to slow the tempo because the sloppy conditions limited effective passing, though the weather had other effects as well.
"I knew that the wet field was a big disadvantage to us and our shooting," Maryland coach Dave Cottle said. "High bouncers were effective the first time we played, and [the rain] eliminated something that we were going to do. I knew we were going to struggle scoring going into the game."
Duke goalie A.J. Kincel played nearly as well as he did in last year's semifinal against Maryland when he made a career-high 21 saves. With the Blue Devils ahead 5-4 late in the third quarter, Kincel (12 saves) stopped Joe Walters' shot from three yards out to maintain the lead.
The save gave Duke momentum. Two minutes later, Cassese's injury was hardly noticeable when he zipped a 15-yard shot past Maryland goalie Danny McCormick (four saves) to put Duke up 6-4.
The teams swapped goals in the fourth quarter, but Walters scored with 46 seconds left to pull the Terps within one. Maryland forced a turnover 31 seconds later and quickly advanced the ball upfield. Senior midfielder Ryan Moran split two defenders to get a shot off from eight yards out, but Kincel stopped it in the mud to preserve the victory.
The Blue Devils needed a quality win to impress the NCAA tournament committee after an unremarkable regular season. Duke was 0-4 before last night against teams currently in the top 10, with its best win a 10-4 rout of No.16 Loyola last month.
Now Duke appears to be in position to earn an NCAA bid for the seventh straight year.
"We've been trying to pull together for a long time," Kincel said. "Our team and our coaching staff haven't given up. This is a starting point. Hopefully, we have a lot of lacrosse left to play. We did our job tonight."
Maryland, meanwhile, lost in the semifinals for the second straight year. The Terps have won just one ACC tournament in 1998 at Klockner the fewest of the league's four teams. They also have scored 11 goals over their last two games after averaging 12 goals a game during a 7-1 start.
"The last two games, we haven't put enough goals on the board," Cottle said. "Plain and simple. We're competing, we're trying our tails off, but right now we're not scoring enough goals to win a game against a good team unless something goes right for us."

Note Moran was joined on the All-ACC team by mates Michael Howley, Mike Mollot and Chris Passavia. Virginia's John Christmas, Tillman Johnson and Chris Rotelli also were selected.

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