STONY BROOK, N.Y. (AP) — Once again, the NCAA women’s lacrosse title is headed to College Park or Evanston.

Top-ranked Maryland will face second-seeded Northwestern in the final for the second straight year on Sunday. The Terrapins (21-1) or Wildcats (19-3) have won it all 13 times in the last 16 seasons.

Northwestern was seeking its sixth straight championship last season when it blew a six-goal lead and watched Maryland celebrate a stunning 13-11 victory in front of 9,782 fans. It was the 10th national title for the Terrapins.

Maryland reached its 20th NCAA final by outscoring its first three opponents by a 48-20 margin. After knocking off Navy and Princeton, the Terrapins advanced with a 14-8 victory over Duke on Friday.

The Atlantic Coast Conference power had to overcome some adversity to get to this point. Besides having to replace five
starters from the program’s first championship team since 2001, Maryland lost midfielder Laura Merrifield for four games with shingles as well as leading scorer Kari Ellen Johnson to a concussion two months ago.

“This has been an interesting year for us,” coach Cathy Reese said. “We have gone through a lot as a team — a lot of ups and
downs. However the neat thing is this team has drawn closer and closer and stronger because of it.

“It could have been something that broken us down as we gone through the season. However it pulled us tighter together and it shows the character of this group of young women. These guys are fighters, they compete, and they have so much heart that they are willing to give everything they can and lay it on the line for their teammates.”

After beating Boston College and Albany, Northwestern advanced with a dramatic 11-10 victory over third-seeded North Carolina despite blowing a trio of three-goal leads.

“Hopefully that will be a defining moment for us and a lesson,” Wildcats coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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