Feb. 21, 2000
The winningest program in women's lacrosse history, Maryland puts the longest active string of national titles by any Division I women's team on the line again this season. They graduated no one from the 1999 championship squad, a team that went 21-0 en route to its fifth straight NCAA title. Head coach Cindy Timchal and her squad, however, are not focusing on what other people expect from the defending national champions who have become synonymous with success during the '90s. As in the past, the Terrapins are focusing on what Maryland needs to do to continue to play at the highest level, and cutting out any outside factors.
"I think what's important for us this year, as it has been every other year, is to focus on setting a standard in lacrosse and focusing on what Maryland has to do," says Timchal of the Terps' point of emphasis this season. In her 10th year at Maryland, Timchal and her team are trying not to concern themselves with what their opponents and the media are saying. "We know that every team out there is strong, and we know we play the toughest schedule in the country. Our focus then is on what Maryland needs to do to play at the level we're really expected to play, and that's what we've been focusing in on all year in anticipation of this season."
Not resting on the accomplishments of last season, Maryland is poised and focused on the task at hand?winning a sixth straight national title. Returning are a stable of All-Americans and a dynamite supporting cast that has made the team the consensus preseason No. 1 pick entering the 2000 season.
1999 Brine/IWLCA Player of the Year Jen Adams leads the Terps on the attack. Adams was the NCAA scoring leader last season, netting 71 goals and racking up 46 assists for a 5.57 ppg average. Third-team All-American Quinn Carney and All-ACC pick Allison Comito return to complement the Aussie on attack. Comito finished last season with 106 points, including a dynamic seven-goal explosion against Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, while Carney was the Terps' fourth-leading scorer with 45 goals and 27 assists.
Junior Megan McNamara also returns as a starter for the Terrapin attack this season. Courtney Hobbs has put herself in position to vie for a starting spot on either the attack or in the midfield after joining the team in January.
Leading the midfield is two-year captain and senior Christie Jenkins. A first-team All-American, Jenkins was voted the 1999 ACC Player of the Year. The team's second-leading scorer, her 55 goals and 30 assists led the Terrapins' attacking midfield in 1999. Fellow captain Kristin Sommar is also another staple in the midfield for the Terps. A two-time Brine/IWLCA first-team All-American, Sommar also augmented the nation's No. 1 attack with 44 goals and 24 assists.
The Terrapin midfield showcases a host of other talents, including starters Courtney Martinez and key reserve Megan Kelly. Kelly moonlights with the Maryland field hockey team in the fall, and will contest for her third national title and fourth ACC title this spring with the Terrapin lacrosse team. Used in a reserve role last season, Kelly, like Hobbs, should see increased playing time according to Timchal.
Newcomers Bridget Frande and Sonia Judd could find themselves in the mix in the midfield down the stretch if they keep showing the improvement they have shown since joining the program. Judd is one of three natives of Australia on the Terps' roster this season, and hails from Adam's alma mater, Brighton Academy.
The defense, which Timchal notes as a key to the domination the Terps exhibited throughout the tournament, returns All-Americans Tonia Porras as well as starters Kerri Mulligan and Tori Wellington. Porras, who is counted on to jump-start the offensive transition, was a second-team All-American by Brine/IWLCA and an All-ACC first-team selection. A junior, Wellington pitched in a 10 goals, with Mulligan starting every game on a defense that gave up an average of only 6.74 goals a game.
Junior Becky Shank saw a lot of playing time last year on the defense after redshirting for her first two seasons. Her sister, freshman Julie Shank, could also help fortify the defense, according to Timchal. Meg Carrington and Tara Foran are also two big, strong defenders that Timchal will use to shut down opponents.
Senior tri-captain Alex Kahoe returns in goal for the Terps after starting every game since her arrival in College Park. "It's exciting to have Alex in goal again this season, it's great to have that kind of experience back there," says Timchal of her All-American goalie, who compiled 245 saves last season. "It's great that she has had a lot of competitive experiences, and that's what you really want to have to create a good foundation."
The Terp team has always been built on a solid foundation of teamwork and unity, and the 2000 season is no different. The overwhelming emphasis is once again on the "we" and not the "I" of sports. According to Timchal, "I think our team has a solid foundation of what it's all about to be part of a team so it's never really a focus on who's going to start and who's not. We feel like everybody on our team makes a contribution, whether they are starters, or whether they get limited playing time."
With a solid base of talent and a group of newcomers 12-strong, the Terrapins must capitalize on the experience of the veterans and translate it to the development of the young players to ensure success again this season. "We certainly look for our returning players to have gone to the next level and step it up," says Timchal of her early-season prognosis. "For the new players in the program, it will be important for them to learn from practicing with the more experienced players as well as challenging them at practices so that if given the opportunity they can help us in game situations."
Returning six All-Americans including Player of the Year Jen Adams, the Terrapins have all the weapons they need to achieve their ultimate goal for the season, another national championship. With their sights focused on the principles of Maryland lacrosse, most importantly pulling together as a unit, the team of the '90s looks to continue its success into the year 2000.