NCAA lacrosse semifinal team previews

Florida Gators midfielder Shannon Gilroy scores a goal past Northwestern Wildcats defender Lacey Vigmostad during the American Lacrosse Conference Championship game on Saturday, May 5 in Gainesville. Gilroy and the Gators are one of the final four teams remaining in the NCAA lacrosse tournament.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 9:37 p.m.

Florida Gators

Record: 19-2

NCAA appearances: 2

Final Four appearances: 1

Coach: Amanda O'Leary

Key Players: Kitty Cullen (jr., a., 45 goals, 23 assists), Gabi Wiegand (jr., a., 46 goals), Shannon Gilroy (fr., m., 39 goals, 77 draw controls)

Outlook: The top-seeded Gators are talented enough to win a national title. Poise will be the key, considering the Final Four will be a new experience for all players involved. O'Leary is leaning on assistant coaches Erica LaGrow and Caitlyn McFadden to provide guidance and leadership. Both previously played in Final Fours. McFadden was a midfielder on Maryland's 2010 national title team, while LaGrow played in four straight Final Fours at North Carolina from 2005-08.

Syracuse Orange

Record: 18-3

NCAA appearances: 10

Final Four appearances: 3

Coach: Gary Gait

Key Players: Alyssa Murray (so., a., 70 goals, 30 assists), Michelle Tumolo (jr., a., 48 goals, 41 assists), Kailah Kempney (fr., a., 82 draw controls).

Outlook: Syracuse won 15 straight games in the regular season and is coming off a dramatic 17-16 win over North Carolina in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Orange led the Big East in both scoring (15 goals per game) and assists (6.52 apg) this season.

Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 19-2

NCAA appearances: 14

Final Four appearances: 8

Coach: Kelly Amonte Hiller

Key Players: Shannon Smith (sr., a., 64 goals, 22 assists), Erin Fitzgerald (jr., m., 53 goals), Taylor Thornton (fr., d., 53 ground balls).

Outlook: The Wildcats are defending national championships and have added Thornton, a two-way threat capable of impacting the game without scoring. Still, Northwestern's holes were exposed in a pair of losses to Florida. Northwestern bounced back from its 14-7 loss to Florida in the ALC Tournament finals with defense, holding its next two opponents to just seven goals per game.

Maryland Terrapins

Record: 19-3

NCAA appearances: 28

Final Four appearances: 20

Coach: Cathy Reese

Key Players: Katie Schwarzmann (jr., m., 69 goals, 22 assists), Alex Aust (jr., a., 52 assists), Brittany Dipper (sr., g., 7.04 goals-against average).

Outlook: Maryland is making its third straight NCAA Final Four appearance. The Terps are deep and talented and boast one of the best goalkeepers in the country in Dipper. Maryland won a national title in 2010 and is capable of winning another one this season.

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