Field hockey moves on to ACC Championship Game with 3-2 overtime win

Maryland Athletics

The Terps rematch against Duke wasn't as easy as Saturday's win but Maryland prevailed in overtime to earn a rematch of last year's title game with UNC for the ACC Tournament crown.

Now that everyone is finished whining about Maryland's loss to UConn in Brooklyn Friday night (and I hope finished ripping on Dez Wells for his "poor" decision making at point guard especially on the last two possessions because we all expected him to be Maryland's point guard, right?) Let's take a look at the field hockey team as they continued to march toward an ACC Tournament championship.

The Terps faced the Duke Blue Devils for the second time in six days on Friday and again came out on the long end of the score though they needed overtime to secure the 3-2 win.In some ways the game looked like it would be quite similar to Saturday's contest with Maryland in full control throughout the first half. The Terps drew an early penalty corner when Mieke Hayn hit Jill Witmer with a pass and the senior drove the baseline into the circle drawing the Duke foul. However, in the first indication that Friday's game would be a bit different from Saturday's, the Terps didn't capitalize. Duke's second team All-ACC goalkeeper Lauren Blazing made the initial save on Maxine Fluharty's shot and Steffi Schneid had her follow up attempt blocked as well. Maryland maintained their pressure keeping the ball in the offensive zone and it paid off in the ninth minute when Anna Dessoye made a centering pass to Witmer. Blazing again came up with the save but Alyssa Parker had positioned herself at the far post and pushed in the rebound to give the Terps a 1-0 lead.

Often this season when the Terrapins have seen their pressure pay off, they thend to see a feat of kelp in the water and set off on an attacking feeding frenzy. They developed an excellent chance for Hayn in the thirteenth minute but again Blazing showed her mettle and protected the cage with a nice foot save. Early in the eighteenth minute, Dessoye drove into the circle on a long corner restart and drew another penalty corner. Again Maryland failed to convert as Sarah Sprink's shot went wide. The Terps finally broke through early in the twenty-fourth minute with another field goal when Witmer cleared some space from about fifteen yards and launched a backhand shot that Blazing saved but failed to control. This time, Emma Rissinger had framed the goal well and the freshman was able to knock in the rebound for to put the Terps on top 2-0.

Maryland had another chance to extend their lead just over two minutes later when Hayley Turner drove into the circle and drew a foul for Maryland's third penalty corner of the half. The Terrapins ran an interesting variation with Turner inserting to Ali McEvoy on the wide left side of the circle. McEvoy made a pass across to a relatively open Sprink on the right side but again Duke's keeper made the big save. The half ended with Maryland holding to their two goal margin.

The second half also felt reminiscent of Saturday's game as Duke turned up the pressure and had the better of the run of play. Again, unlike Saturday, the Terps didn't mount another quick explosive scoring burst though they had several chances. The best opportunities came in the forty-ninth and fiftieth minutes but Blazing continued her hot goalkeeping twice denying Welma Luus with Hayn unable to corral the rebound on the second shot before Duke's defense recovered. The Blue Devils broke through late in the fifty-fourth minute to halve the Terrapin lead but the Terps answered by drawing a penalty corner in the fifty ninth minute only to see McEvoy's shot again turned away. With just over three minutes to play, Duke drew a penalty corner and converted it capitalizing on Maryland's inability to get the ball past a locked in keeper. Maryland had a chance with under two minutes to play but Delaney Leathers pushed her shot wide and score remained tied.

After an early Maryland turnover to open the overtime, allowed Duke to create some early pressure, Coach Missy Meharg called a timeout as soon as the Terps regained possession. The team took to heart whatever their coach told them in the huddle as the drove quickly down the field and strong ball control at the top of the circle by Maxine Fluharty drew a penalty corner just over three minutes into the extra period. Hayley Turner inserted to Sprink who passed left to Ali McEvoy. The senior made a pass to Fluharty at right post. Blazing made the save on the initial shot but Fluharty picked up her own rebound put it in the back of the cage sending Terps on to Sunday's final where they will face the North Carolina Tar Heels who upended the second seeded Syracuse Orange in the day's other semi final.

I'll have more reporting later on the women's basketball team's tough 78-70 road win at the University of South Florida, men's soccer's 2-1 win at Virginia Tech giving them a share of the ACC regular season title, and volleyball's straight set loss to Duke on a busy night. But for now, FHFAN simply wants to savor field hockey's win.

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