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NCAA lacrosse blog: Maryland edges Syracuse, 11-10, faces Carolina in women's final

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Tynes covers the tournament live on The Inquirer's NCAA lacrosse blog.

WEB EXCLUSIVE: In what will go down as one of the best games of the season, top-seeded remained unbeaten by defeating Syracuse, 11-10, in the second NCAA Divisin I women's lacrosse semifinal Friday night at Villanova Stadium.

The Terps (22-0) will play North Carolina at 8 p.m. Sunday for the national championship.

After Maryland took a 9-6 lead early in the second half, the Orange (18-3) scored four straight goals, capped by Katie Webster's tally, to take a 10-9 lead with just over 18 minutes remaining.

But that was all Syracuse got. Sophomore midfielder Katie McPartland tied it 10-10 for Maryland less than two minutes later. Then with just under three minutes remaining, Brooke Griffin scored with an assist from Katie Schwarzmann to give the Terps their game-winner.

McPartland finished with a hat trick, and Syracuse All-American Kayla Treanor scored four goals.

Maryland takes halftime lead

Maryland, the top seed in the tournament, took a 7-4 lead over Syracuse into halftime Friday night at Villanova Stadium.

The winner gets North Carolina, an earlier semifinal winner over two-time defending national champion Northwestern, in Sunday's 8 p.m. national championship game.

For the Terps, the two Tewaaraton Trophy (national player of the year) finalists and All-Americans, Katie Schwarzmann and Alex Aust, have been leading the way. Schwarzmann paces the team in assists while Aust has already collected two goals.

While facing 11 shots, Syracuse goalkeeper Kelsey Richardson has saved just four of 11 shots. The Orange's IWLCA All-American, Kayla Treanor, has kept the Orange close, scoring two goals on two shots.

For the Orange to get back into the contest, their defense needs to defend the consistent slashing of the Terps.

North Carolina stuns Northwestern

Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller had never lost in a NCAA semifinal at Northwestern. In fact, she had only lost 32 times out of 247 games in 12 seasons with the Wildcats.

That, of course, was before third-seeded North Carolina found its way to Villanova Stadium on Friday.

After defeating the Tar Heels the last four times in the postseason, the Wildcats finally lost a step in their legendary dynasty. North Carolina defeated the second-seeded Wildcats, 11-4.

The Tar Heels will face the winner of the second semifinal - Maryland vs. Syracuse - in Sunday's 8 p.m. national championship game.

The two-time defending national champion Wildcats did the best they could on the stat sheet at halftime. They collected more ground balls, took more shots and had the advantage in the goal coming into the contest. But it wasn't enough against the Tar Heels.

The first time these two met in February, the Tar Heels scored the first six goals en route to an 11-8 victory. This time it was all North Carolina, which put on an offensive clinic on how to attack the net.

Two All-Americans, Abby Friend and Kara Cannizzaro, recorded hat tricks. Cannizzaro, a Tewaaraton Trophy (nation's top player) finalist, finished with four goals on six shots. Junior attack Kat DeRonda had two goals on four shots for Northwestern.

After taking a 4-1 halftime lead, Cannizzaro slashed to the net and put one past Moorestown's own Bridget Bianco to open the second half. She tallied three more times in teh second half.

North Carolina grabs 4-1 halftime edge

North Carolina is giving two-time defending champion Northwestern all it can handle, leading 4-1 at halftime of their NCAA Division I women's semfinal lacrosse game at Villanova Stadium.

It's been a battle of top-ranked defenses, UNC with the 11th best in the NCAA and Northwestern at seventh.

The Tar Heels came out firing at Moorestown's own Bridget Bianco. Between multiple free positions and outplaying the Wildcats in the cage, Carolina's offense has been in control.

Junior attack Abby Friend has been pacing the Tar Heels on offense with two goals on two attempts from the attack. They've also been aided by goals from senior attacker Jessica Griffin and freshman attacker Aly Messinger. All their goals have been unassisted.

Senior Amanda Macaluso scored Northwestern's only goal while the team looked rattled early on. The Wildcats were also held to one of their longest stretches of the season without a goal, lasting more than 10 minutes in the first half.

Carolina, Northwestern clash in first semifinal

Third-seeded North Carolina will make its fourth appearance in the NCAA tournament semifinals in the last five years and will take on second-seeded Northwestern at Villanova Stadium. It's the first game of Friday's doubleheader, set for a 5 p.m. start.

Northwestern is looking to stay perfect in its NCAA semifinal appearances. The Wildcats are 8-0.

In February, the Tar Heels snapped the Wildcats' four-game winning streak in the series between the two schools as well as 10 straight wins against ACC opponents. The Wildcats have a 10-3 advantage all-time against the Tar Heels, but their last four contests have been decided by a total of just six goals.

Friday's game is the fourth meeting between UNC and Northwestern in the NCAA tournament in the last five years (2009 national title game, 2010 semifinal, 2011 semifinal, 2013 semifinal), and the Wildcats have won all of them.

The Wildcats will be led by their four All-Americans on the turf: seniors Taylor Thorton (defense) and Erin Fitzgerald (attack) were first-team selections and senior Gabriella Flibotte (midfield) was named second-team while sophomore and Moorestown's Bridget Bianco (goalkeeper) was named third-team.

Fitzgerald leads the Wildcats in points with 59 goals. On defense, Flibotte leads the team in ground balls with 58 and in the cage Bianco has recorded 120 saves.

The Tar Heels will be paced by their star midfielder, senior captain Kara Cannizzaro. The Tewaaraton Trophy (top player in the nation) finalist enters the weekend leading the team in goals with 53, assists with 19, points with 72 and caused turnovers with 29 while ranking second in ground balls at 34.