NCAA lacrosse semifinal team previews
Published: Friday, May 25, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 9:37 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
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.