- The Washington Times - Monday, May 22, 2006

TOWSON, Md. — The Maryland lacrosse team was not going to let much prevent it from reaching the NCAA tournament semifinals for the third time in four years.

Certainly not longtime postseason nemesis Princeton.

Brendan Healy scored three goals, and the Terrapins held Princeton without a goal for more than 38 minutes as second-seeded Maryland hammered the Tigers 11-6 yesterday in the NCAA quarterfinals at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Maryland (12-4) long had been haunted in the playoffs by Princeton (11-5), losing the teams’ previous five postseason meetings, including an overtime setback in the 2004 quarterfinals. Yet with superior talent, an aggressive defense and a methodical ball-control approach, the Terps moved within two victories of their first title since 1975.

“You talk about it enough, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Maryland coach Dave Cottle, whose team will face Massachusetts on Saturday in Philadelphia. “It’s like watching the Chicago Cubs eat themselves alive. We just decided that we weren’t going to dwell in the past.”

The present works nicely for Maryland, which jumped to a 5-1 lead only to fritter it away in a three-minute stretch in the second quarter. However, second-line midfielder Dan Groot and attackman Michael Phipps scored before the break, and the Terps dominated possession in the second half and peppered Alex Hewit (16 saves) with shots to prevent Princeton from making a run.

It also helped that Maryland’s defense gave Princeton little room to operate. After the Tigers’ first-half run, the Terps shifted Steve Whittenberg (six forced turnovers) to mark attackman Peter Trombino — a move that neutralized the Tigers’ best offensive player. It also led to a scoring drought of 38:09 for Princeton, which missed the final four for the third time in four years.

“Princeton is so good off-ball, and the players we recruit are good on-ball,” Cottle said. “The challenge for us was to devise a defense that would accentuate our strengths but not to make it to where we slide, and they go bang-bang-bang and they get shots all over the place.”

This was another decisive performance by the experienced Terps. They cleared efficiently, forced 25 turnovers and held a 44-20 groundball advantage on the Tigers, whose only goal of the second half came with 32 seconds left.

That could set up bigger things for Maryland, which was blown out in semifinal appearances in 2003 and 2005. A similar fate seems unlikely for this bunch, which followed up an impressive up-tempo performance last week against Denver with a masterpiece at a slower pace against Princeton.

“Last year we picked it up as the season went on, but I think we were almost glad to be in the final four at that point, and we said, ‘Well, whatever happens from here,’” Healy said. “This year we felt like we belonged in the final four, and we feel like we’re playing our best lacrosse in May. We’re going to give it our best shot.”

No. 1 Virginia 20,No. 8 Georgetown 8

The Cavaliers remain on track to take their place among the sport’s finest teams. The Hoyas, though, have an undesirable piece of history of their own.

Ben Rubeor scored five goals and added two assists as Virginia rolled past Georgetown to remain perfect entering Saturday’s semifinal against fifth-seeded Syracuse.

Matt Ward added three goals and a career-high five assists, and Matt Poskay had four goals as Virginia (15-0) scored nine times in the third quarter to blow it open.

“I don’t think we played that well, to be honest,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “I’m not taking it for granted, but I think we can play better than we did today. I want to keep moving in that direction.”

That’s a scary prospect for the Hoyas (11-3), who got four goals from Dave Paolisso but became the first team to lose in the quarterfinals in five consecutive seasons. Three of the previous four losses came in the closing seconds, but yesterday provided a different kind of misery.

Virginia scored the first four goals and took an 8-5 halftime lead. The Cavaliers’ efficient offense then shredded the Hoyas, chasing goalie Miles Kass by the middle of the third quarter and ending any hope of an upset.

Ten players scored for the Cavaliers, who head to Philadelphia as the prohibitive favorites to win their third title since 1999.

“They made a believer out of me,” said Georgetown coach Dave Urick, whose team gave up 20 goals for the first time since a 24-16 loss to Syracuse in 2000. “They’re an excellent team, and they’re well prepared for this next weekend. I think it’s not over. They’re going to have to earn it, and they’re going to get tested. But I think they’re up to the challenge.”

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