The Maryland women's lacrosse team, which has unexpectedly flown to a No. 1 national ranking with a 14-0 record, is taking its show on the road today in the AIAW championships at 12:30 p.m. at Princeton.
A 7-6 upset of defending champion Penn State gave the young Terrapin squad the top seeding in the 13-team field. It also ended a 38-game Penn State unbeaten streak that dated back to April 26, 1977. The Terps, with a bye in the first round, will face the winner of the 9 a.m. New Hampshire Princeton match.
Terp Coach Sue Tyler is overflowing with confidence. "I've never gone in with the top ranking," said Tyler. "But with this team, I wouldn't want it any other way. They're not cocky, just ready to go out and prove their ranking is well-deserved."
At the beginning of the season, Tyler had no idea the team would reach such heights.
"This is kind of surprising," said Tyler. "I thought this would be a rebuilding year because we lost a lot of seniors last year." The Terps finished sixth in the nation last year and lost in the tournament final to Penn State in 1978.
The Terps have been blessed by impressive walk-ons such as Dawn Goodall and Laura LeMire, neither of whom had never played lacrosse before coming to College Park. Lynn Frame, another walk-on, was a field hockey player, and is now one of Tyler's defensive stalwarts.
But defense is secondary on this team which has outsocred opponents, 188-64, and Tyler insists that no team can contain the Terps playing a man-to-man defense.
"Most teams have two or three scorers," said Tyler. "We'll play with five attackers in the lineup at one time and they can all score."
The Terps scoring machine is led by junior Judy Dougherty with 35 goals and 30 assists. "The other team never knows what Judy is going to do," said Tyler. "She's dangerous every time she controls the ball."
Sandy Lanahan (41 goals) and Sally Schofield (38) are the recipients of most of Dougherty's slick passes.
Zone defense have troubled the Terp offense. "We've been shut down a little by zones," said Tyler, "but we had a strong week of practice and we were breaking zones so easily by the end of the week I'm not worried anymoe. This team does everything well."
The Terps also have a strong goal-tender in Denise Wescott, who turned away 71 percent of the shots thrown her way this year.
"We're a strong team and I'm pretty confident," said Tyler. "This is a very highly motivated team and we can win it all."