- Associated Press - Friday, May 23, 2014

TOWSON, Md. (AP) - Kelly McPartland scored three goals and top-seeded Maryland defeated Northwestern 9-6 Friday night in the semifinals of the NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament.

The Terrapins (22-1) will face the Syracuse, which beat Virginia 16-8 in the earlier semifinal, in Sunday’s championship game. Maryland will shoot for its NCAA-best 11th national title in women’s lacrosse after losing in the final last season to North Carolina.

Brooke Griffin and Zoe Stukenberg each scored twice for the Terrapins.

“We came out and fought hard from the very beginning against an opponent we know is very tough,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. “We fought for an entire 60 minutes and that was crucial for our success today.”

Kara Mupo led Northwestern (14-7) with two goals. The fifth-seeded Wildcats have a storied history in the NCAA tournament, having won five consecutive national championships from 2005-2009, and then two more in 2011 and ‘12.

After falling behind 2-1, Maryland responded with four consecutive goals to take the lead into the break. Griffin had a goal and two assists, and McPartland scored twice during the run.

“My shooting was not very good in the beginning,” McPartland said. “After Cathy talked to us in one of our several timeouts, she told us we need to shoot high. I just adjusted from there.”

Alyssa Leonard’s free-position goal early in the second half ended a 24:39 scoring drought and pulled the Wildcats within 5-3.

Maryland went on another three-goal run. After McPartland’s third goal with 8:11 remaining provided a five-goal cushion, Kelly Rich and Mupo answered for Northwestern. But that was as close as the Wildcats would get.

“In the first half, we had some chances and we just didn’t capitalize on them,” Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hlller said. “You have to do that in these types of games. I think if we had capitalized, we would have gained more momentum.”

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