Women's Soccer moves to the ACC semis while Volleyball drops a tough 5 setter

What a day it was on campus for women’s sports Sunday. Two epic contests. One ends with a Terp win one falls just short. I’ll start with the good news from the pitch where the Terps advanced to the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Miami.

Although the game was physical from the start, both teams seemed a little sluggish perhaps do to the 10 am start (prompted by hurricane Sandy, I assume). As they had in the game just over a week ago, Miami came out aggressively constantly pushing forward and confining much of the early play to the Maryland defensive side of the field. The Terps didn’t manage their first shot until the 15th minute when Becky Kaplan’s shot went wide. Miami had taken three shots by that point though none particularly challenged. In the 27th minute Kaplan had the first shot on goal for either team but it was easily saved by the Hurricanes' keeper. Freshman defender Erika Nelson followed with a shot in the 31st minute that sailed just high. Shortly after this attempt, Miami subbed their goalie and Coach Morgan subbed in Alex Reed. Reed, trailing down the center on a right side attack by Gabby Galanti was the beneficiary when the Miami defender was unable to flick the ball away and Galanti was able to guide it to Reed who was left one on one with the Miami goalie and blasted it into the upper left corner of the goal pushing MD to a 1-0 lead. The Terps carried that lead into intermission despite Reed receiving a yellow card.

Trying match Miami’s aggressive play, the Terps were whistled for 3 fouls in the first six minutes of the second half but the ‘Canes were unable to turn those into opportunities. Maryland was able to create an opportunity for Galanti in the 58th minute but the freshman forward couldn’t get much on it and the ball rolled easily into the arms of Miami’s goalie. As the clock continued to move inexorably toward the 90th minute, Miami began to press forward with even greater urgency testing the Maryland defense eventually drawing a second yellow card when Domenica Hodak was called for a foul in the box. Miami was able to convert the penalty kick with a shot into the same upper left hand corner where Maryland scored its first half goal. The Terps had a good chance in the 75th minute when Miami was whistled for only its fourth foul of the half but Miami’s goalie was able to come up with a diving save after Olivia Wagner’s rocket from 27 yards curled around the Miami defensive wall. The half ended with the teams knotted at one needing to face off in their second overtime in 10 days.

The Hurricanes generated the first opportunity of the overtime earning a corner kick just over 30 seconds into the extra period. Maryland’s defense was up to the task and Miami failed to get off a shot. The Terps earned a corner of their own in the 94th minute but were also unable to produce a shot. As Miami attempted to clear the ball from its defensive end, Cory Ryan made a clean tackle on a Miami defender along the right sideline and controlled the ball behind her. Failing to get a good angle for a shot, she waited patiently for Danielle Hubka to open a bit of space from another defender. Ryan hit Hubka with a perfect cross who drilled home the game winner.

In the ACC semifinals on Friday Maryland will take on Wake Forest who defeated Duke in other quarterfinal action. The game is scheduled for 7:30 Friday evening.

I had a bit of time to catch my breath while I moved across campus to the Pavilion at Comcast to watch Maryland face off against Clemson in volleyball. The Tigers came in looking to move above the .500 mark in ACC play and even the season series after losing at home to the Terps in straight sets. The match started propitiously for the home team when Mary Cushman opened the scoring with a service ace followed by a kill from Ashliegh Crutcher. Behind some solid defensive play and good serving by freshman Amy Dion making her third consecutive start at libero, Maryland was able to slowly stretch the lead to 12-7.Following a time out, however, the Tigers were able to reel off 6 consecutive points to take their first lead of the match at 13-12. The set remained tight with the teams essentially trading points until the Terps were able to put together a small run behind Kelsey Hrebenach’s serving and take a 23-20 lead. Maryland reached it first set point off a kill from Crutcher but Clemson was again able to rally and stave off all three set points to tie the score at 24-24. The visitors were able to fight off another set point at 25-24 but the Terps closed out the set behind kills from Adreene Elliott and Remy McBain.

The second set was all Clemson. After an early tie at 5-5, the Tigers began to take control of the set with a run of three points to move ahead 8-5. The Terps would get no closer than 2 points as Clemson rolled to a 25-17 victory.

After the break, Clemson scored the first point of the third. But a service break followed by 2 Hrebenach aces gave Maryland an early 3-1 lead. The Tigers fought back and the set became a back and forth affair until Clemson was able to run off 4 straight points after trailing 8-7 to take an 11-8 lead, It began to look as though the set was shaping up like the second as the visitors put together several mini runs to stretch their lead to 21-15. A kill from Crutcher seemed to ignite the Terps as they clawed back into the set drawing within 23-22 and again closing to one at 24-23. Clemson took advantage of it opportunity and secured the set 25-23. There were times during this match when it seemed that the ball simply did not want to favor the Terps with Clemson scoring points after sendig huge Maryland kill attempts ping-ponging around the rafters of the gym or keeping balls in play after having them inadvertently bounce off their elbows.

But this group is nothing if not resilient and though Maryland fell behind early in the third set with Clemson opening an early 6-3 lead, Hrebenach had one of her 7 kills to pull the Terps to 6-4. She took over the serve and propelled the home team to a run of 6 straight putting the Terps in the lead 10-6. Clemson immediately bounced back with a four point scoring run to tie the score at ten. The middle of the set mirrored the first in one respect. Neither team could open a lead of more than two points. The energy was at a different level with the Terps scrambling and diving all over the floor to keep balls in play. After ties at 15 all and 17-17, the effort finally paid off as Maryland put together a string of points behind the serves of Remy McBain to take a 21-18 lead, The Terps fittingly wrapped up the set 25-22 on a block from McBain.

Playing in their second 5 set match of the weekend the Terps started slowly in the fifth with Clemson rolling out to a 10-3 lead. The Tigers were able to easily hold on to that margin and sewed up the victory 15-9. Clemson seemed to focus it defensive efforts on slowing Adreene Elliott holding her to a hitting percentage of .190 far below her season average of .395. Ashleigh Crutcher led the Terps with 28 kills and a team leading .317 hitting percentage. Remy McBain led Maryland with 38 assists and Mary Cushman and Mackenzie Dagostino posted double-coubles with Cushman adding 14 digs to her 16 kills and Dagostino posting 18 assists and 13 digs. Freshman Amy Dion led the Terps in digs with 23. Maryland finishes its home season Friday and Sunday with games against Wake Forest and Duke. Friday night’s game will be at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.

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