The undefeated and top ranked Maryland Terrapins took the field at Fetzer Stadium on the campus of the University of North Carolina seeking to take the first step in securing their fifth consecutive ACC Championship. Mission accomplished. The Terps withstood a challenge from the Virginia Cavaliers to move into the finals with a 13-9 victory. Maryland’s starting lineup features five All-ACC performers: Freshman Taylaor Cummings and sophomore Brooke Griffin made their first appearance, senior defender Iliana Sanza and senior attacker Alex Aust have now made the all conference team twice and reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwarzmann joined fellow Terrapin great Kari Ellen Johnson as one of only three four time all conference players.
The contest started slowly for the Terps as they were called for a foul on the opening draw and the Cavaliers took advantage scoring the game’s first goal. Virginia returned the favor on the next draw. Griffin found sophomore midfielder Kelly McPartland cutting down the left side and 25 seconds after falling behind, the Terps had evened the score. After running through some patient offensive sets, Virginia scored again to take the lead for the last time in the game. Although the Cavs controlled the next draw, Maryland turned up the defensive pressure and forced a turnover and after Cummings’s shot wide, Aust hit Schwarzmann who rifled a shot into the upper left corner to once again tie the game. Following Kasey Howard’s first save of the game and a UVA free position shot that went wide, Maryland counter attacked and McPartland coming in from the right wing notched her second goal of the game to give the Terps their first lead at 3-2. Schwarzmann controlled the subsequent draw and passed quickly ahead to McPartland but Virginia’s goalie saved her low shot attempt. On Virginia’s ensuing possession, the Terrapin defense forced a turnover with Sanza picking up the ground ball, clearing quickly to McPartland who found Griffin open near the goal for a one step fake, shot and score. Though UVA had some success controlling the draw, the Maryland defense was equally successful in shutting them down. This time Schwarzmann created the turnover and with Griffin initiating the offense from behind the net, Aust scored her team leading 57th goal of the season taking the Terps from a 2-1 deficit to a 5-2 lead in the space of about 13 minutes. Virginia called timeout to slow the Maryland momentum and the ploy succeeded as the Cavaliers defense forced Maryland into a long possession and eventually a turnover leading to a goal that narrowed the gap to two. Virginia’s goalkeeper came up with a nice save on a shot by Beth Glaros but on the clear attempt, Schwarzmann made a strong check in the UVA zone, picked up the ground ball and outraced everyone for an easy one on one score. With the Terps up 6-3, the Cavs again fought back scoring twice to close within 6-5. The Cavaliers looked in position to tie the score but Howard came up with a big save and McPartland made a strong rush from the right side to register her third goal of the game. Virginia again pulled within one scoring on a free position shot with 34 seconds left in the half cutting Maryland’s lead to 7-6 at the break.
The second half opened much as the first with Virginia controlling the draw. The Terrapin defense was again stout as UVA came up empty managing only one shot in nearly four minutes of possession. The Terps cleared successfully and Aust picked up the carom when Griffin’s shot hit the pipe. She centered a pass to Cummings at the top of the circle and Cummings fed it back to Aust for the senior’s second score of the game. Beth Glaros corralled the draw for Maryland and for the second consecutive possession, the Terps had a shot clang off metal. Virginia controlled the errant Aust shot but Glaros stepped in front of the clearing pass to intercept it. She passed ahead to Griffin who bounced her shot into the net once again giving Maryland a three goal lead at 9-6. The Cavaliers continued their deliberate style of play and scored to close to 9-7 after another long possession. Maryland succeeded in controlling the draw for the third consecutive time but turned the ball over trying to clear into the offensive zone. The Terrapin defense harassed Virginia into a poor pass and Maryland regained possession. Maryland inverted the offense with Schwarzmann pulling the trigger from behind the net to Griffin for a one timer and the Maryland lead was back to three. Another draw control and two Virginia fouls led to a free position score from Aust and the Terps largest lead of the game. Following a Schwarzmann miss on a power play chance, Virginia countered and scored on a free position shot to stay within reach. Glaros again controlled the draw for Maryland and after a series of fouls including two free position chances where the Terps declined shot attempts, choosing instead to drain the clock, a second Virginia yellow card led to a power play goal for Maryland as McPartland passed across the crease to Erin Collins who then hit Glaros as she cut down the middle on a fine set play for the Terps. The lead stood at 12-8 with just under nine minutes to go. Cummings controlled the draw and the Terps, while making an occasional feint and shot, seemed contend to watch the clock wind down as they controlled the ball for nearly five minutes before turning the ball over as UVA grew increasingly aggressive defensively. The turnover led to Virginia’s final score of the game again coming off a free position shot. After yet another Terrapin draw control each team forced the other into a turnover but Virginia’s led to Maryland’s final score of the game as Aust picked up her second assist and Schwarzmann became the fourth Terp to notch a hat trick. Virginia had one final chance to score with just under a minute to go but the free position attempt hit the post and Melissa Diepold picked up the carom. The Terps ran out the clock and will face the winner of the match between Boston College and North Carolina (UNC led 13-6 with nine minutes to go) for the championship on Sunday.
Todd Carton (AKA FHFAN)