FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — This is familiar ground for Maryland.
The top-seeded Terrapins are back in the women’s NCAA lacrosse championship for the fifth straight year. They face Boston College on Sunday and will be playing for a third national title in four years.
“There was a lot of unknowns going into the season, and there was a lot of people that questioned where Maryland would be,” coach Cathy Reese said. “Does Maryland even have the talent or the ability to make it back to a Final Four?”
The answer was resoundingly clear.
The Terps went 22-0 in the regular season, then clinched their fifth straight finals appearance with a 20-10 blowout of Penn State on Friday in the national semifinals at Gillette Stadium.
Maryland hasn’t lost since falling to North Carolina 13-7 in last year’s championship game. The Terps were the defending national champs a year ago, having edged North Carolina 9-8 in 2015 for the 12th title. They haven’t forgotten the uneasy feeling of finishing as runner-up.
“We’re all just so thankful that we have the opportunity to stay together as a team and have another game,” senior Zoe Stukenberg said.
As experienced as the Terps are in the postseason, some of their youngest players helped get Maryland back in the finals. Midfielder Jen Giles had four goals and four assists Friday; Kali Hartshorn also scored four times against Penn State; and goalie Megan Taylor made 10 saves.
“It’s awesome to see the confidence out of our younger players and maybe people who haven’t been on this stage before,” Stukenberg said. “I think that everyone on our team does a great job of playing with confidence and just having faith in each other.”
Boston College coach Acacia Walker was an All-American for the Terps and a co-captain in 2005.
The Eagles (17-6) edged Navy 16-15 Friday night to clinch their first berth in the women’s championship, which will be played about 25 miles from the Boston College campus.
“This is why we do what to do and that is to play against the very best,” Walker said. “Their players are incredible, but our players are ready for the moment. And we wouldn’t want it to be anyone else because they are the best.”
Maryland had a first-round bye as the top overall seed. Boston College needed to beat Canisius 21-9, sixth-seeded Syracuse 21-10 and Southern California 15-12 to advance to the semifinals. The Eagles are the first unseeded team to reach the championship since Princeton in 2003.
“I think this entire year has been a year of upsets, especially in tournament play,” Boston College defender Carly Bell said. “Every team in the tournament is good so in practice we focus on ourselves and not Maryland and how we as units are going to play our best.”
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