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Conference has strong Memorial Day weekend, seeks more success in weeks ahead
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – The Atlantic Coast Conference is finishing in exceedingly strong fashion as the 2014 collegiate spring sports seasons wind to a close.
The league continued to dominate Division I lacrosse, with Maryland women claiming the NCAA Championship last Sunday night and Duke prevailing on the men’s side on Monday. The titles came after the ACC placed three teams in the final four of each event.
The dual lacrosse championships capped a Memorial Day weekend in which Duke also captured the NCAA women’s golf title and Virginia sophomore Danielle Collins claimed the NCAA singles trophy in women’s tennis.
Quite a flurry of championship activity, and one the ACC hopes isn’t over. Florida State opened play Thursday in the College Softball World Series at Oklahoma City. On Friday, fourth-ranked Virginia and 10th-ranked Notre Dame will represent the ACC as the NCAA Rowing Championships get underway in Indianapolis.
NCAA Baseball Regional play also opens Friday with seven ACC teams in the mix, including a pair of national seeds in No. 3 Virginia and No. 5 Florida State. And the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Preliminary Meet at Jacksonville, Florida, began on Thursday, featuring 297 ACC entrants (159 women, 138 men) who hope to earn spots in the NCAA Championships, set for June 11-14 at Eugene, Oregon.
Maryland staked claim to its 11th NCAA women’s lacrosse title and its first since 2010 with a 15-12 victory over Syracuse in last Sunday evening’s finale at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Maryland.
“Three final fours already and this is our fourth – we didn’t want to come up short in this one, especially since this is our seniors’ last year,” Beth Glaros, who scored five goals in the title match, told Roger Moore of NCAA.com.
It marked the second straight year and the sixth time overall that the women’s lacrosse national title game featured a pair of ACC teams. The NCAA championship was the conference’s 15th in the sport overall, the second consecutive and the third in five seasons.
With Duke’s 11-9 victory over Notre Dame in Monday’s final at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, current ACC membership now owns 24 NCAA men’s lacrosse crowns. That includes six NCAA titles in the past seven years, including two consecutive by the Blue Devils.
“This one is a little more sad, just because it’s my last game at Duke,” senior All-American Jordan Wolf said following Monday’s match. “I love this university, I love my teammates, my coaches. I couldn’t ask for better ones. They’ve helped me tremendously on the field, and more importantly off the field, being a man and growing up.”
The Cavaliers’ Collins became the sixth ACC women’s NCAA tennis singles champion and the first from Virginia as she defeated California’s Lynn Chi by a 6-2, 7-5 score in Sunday’s final.
“I’m really happy I was able to win this title for our program, players and coaches,” Collins said. “Obviously, we had an historic year as a team, but this was a big bonus to have an historic year individually. I took it one match at a time and really didn’t think about the end result. I just listened to my coaches and we got this done together.”
The ACC also made strong runs in NCAA postseason team competition, led by the North Carolina women’s national runner-up finish. The Virginia men reached the national semifinals before falling to eventual national champion Southern California.
The NCAA golf championship for the Duke women was the program’s sixth and the seventh won by a current ACC member school. The Blue Devils overtook 2013 champion Southern California to win by two strokes.
“I have a great team,” veteran head coach Dan Brooks said. “They are just great in every way you want a golf team to be. They work hard, they pull for each other, and they keep things in perspective.”
With last week’s success, the ACC owns five NCAA team titles for the current academic year. Nine student-athletes – six men and three women – have claimed individual national titles.
All of which sets up the final stretch run. With five NCAA team championships and several dozen individual medals still hanging in the balance, the ACC hopes to turn the final reel for 2013-14 into a full-length feature.