Via Virginia Sports Information; Photo: cville-lax.com

Photo copyright (c) 2007 Tom McCrystal
Senior captain Jessy Morgan (23) works a clear against Temple. Wednesday, March 7, 2007. (Click for a larger version: 66K)

#5 Virginia and #3 Maryland — both undefeated in 5 starts each — meet up in the 44th version of the nation’s most storied rivalry in women’s lacrosse as the Terrapins draw against the Cavaliers on Tuesday (March 13) at 5 p.m. in Virginia’s Klockner Stadium. The Cavaliers, the 2006 ACC Champions and winners of two of the last three conference titles, have won six consecutive games against their archrivals.

Virginia and Maryland have staged epic contests in the past, and these two have combined for 13 national titles. They are two of only seven schools that have played in over 500 games and they rank 1-2 all-time in winning percentage and 1-3 in all-time wins at the Division I level. Alumna of these two giants have populated the US national teams and have won multiple world titles. Maryland and Virginia consistently produce national players of the year, and tonight’s game is the first in history that features two Tewaaraton Trophy recipients coaching against each other as Jenni Adams won in 2001 and Amy Appelt won in 2004.

Tonight’s game features stingy Virginia defense against an explosive Maryland offense. The Cavaliers have not allowed opponents to reach double digits on the scoreboard in 2007, thanks in large part to a defense that allows only 14 shots per game. Captain Jessy Morgan and fellow veterans Jen Holden and Claire Bordley have organized a tight defense in front of Kendall McBrearty, and the addition of first-year Kaitlin Duff has made the Cavalier backline even stronger. Duff has already earned National Rookie of the Week honors and she leads Virginia in ground balls and caused turnovers. Maryland has scored 15 goals or more in each contest

The Cavalier midfield, led by captain Jess Wasilewski, is outdrawing the opposition 64-44, led by first years Brittany Kalkstein (14) and Duff (12). Virginia has also vacuumed up more ground balls than its opposition in four of the five games, with Duff and Holden (8) leading the way. Virginia has also been strong clearing the ball, running at an 80% success rate while holding opponents to 64%.

Virginia’s offense is prolific, averaging 13.8 goals per game, led by Kate Breslin’s 19 and Blair Weymouth’s 13. Ashley McCulloch has already hit a career-high with nine assists as Virginia is moving the ball with authority, as half of the Cavalier goals are assisted. Four players have already reached 10 points or more. The Maryland defense is surrendering over 10 goals a game, including 18 to ACC rival Duke last week.

Tonight’s contest reunites UVa’s Heather Dow and Maryland’s Sandra P. Worth, who have been on the USA World Cup staff in 1993, 2001, and 2005, winning a gold medal in the World Cup in 1993 and 2001, just one example of the depth and history these two programs have exhibited to women’s lacrosse in the United States.

Fans can watch the game on ACC Select, Virginia.playonsports.tv. Opening draw is slated for 5 p.m.