COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Top-ranked Maryland field hockey clinched the ACC regular season title Friday night with a 4-1 win over No. 5 Virginia in College Park. Sophomore Maxine Fluharty led the offense with two goals, while the Terrapins’ defense held the league’s top scorer quiet throughout the match.
Maryland (16-1, 5-0 ACC) held a 3-0 lead at halftime behind an early goal from senior Jill Witmer and Fluharty’s two scores. Junior Welma Luus expanded the Terps’ lead to 4-1 with just under 18 minutes to play to hold off a Virginia (15-4, 3-3) threat. The Cavaliers’ Elly Buckley, the league’s top scorer, was held without a goal and to just three shots.
With the win, the Terrapins clinched the top spot in the ACC Tournament Nov. 7-10 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Due to the addition of Syracuse to the league this year, only the top-seeded team earns a first round bye.
“The team grew more this evening than they have in a period of time the whole season, from structure in the defense and finishing and goal scoring,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “Just very, very pleased with the women for really playing two-touch hockey, which makes everybody feel like they believe and belong. That’s very, very exciting. Virginia has exceedingly dangerous players. I think Elly Buckley and Carissa Vittese are very dangerous. To get 16 shots and four goals is a great finish.”
Maryland jumped out of the gate quickly with a score by Witmer 4:20 in. Sophomore Sarah Sprink sent a hard shot in from the top of the circle and Witmer deflected it in for her 15th goal of the year.
In the 23rd minute, Fluharty scored her first of the night and made it a two-goal lead for the Terps. She slung in a backhanded shot off a pass from Anna Dessoye for the score.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Terps were awarded a penalty corner. Sprink’s two shots were saved by Virginia goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone, then Fluharty tapped in the Terrapins’ third goal for a 3-0 lead at the break.
Virginia got on the board with 22 minutes left to play when Katie Robinson deflected in Elly Buckley’s shot off a penalty corner. As momentum started to swing toward the Cavaliers, Luus created a shot on the Terps’ end of the field and scored from the top right part of the circle for a 4-1 lead with 17:91 to play.
Maryland outshot Virginia, 16-10, and Terrapins goalkeeper Natalie Hunter notched five saves, all in the second half. Johnstone had nine stops.
Friday's game was Maryland's annual Pink Game for breast cancer awareness. The Terps ask all fans to consider donating to the National Foundation for Cancer Research at https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/maryland-fieldhockey/p4tc.
The Terrapins are No. 1 in both the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I National Coaches poll and the latest NCAA RPI rankings released Oct. 22. The Terps have held the top spot in both polls for the last month.
Next, Maryland will welcome Georgetown (2-14) to College Park Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Terps’ final regular season home game. Six seniors – Ali McEvoy, Christine Knauss, Hayley Turner, Jill Witmer, Shelby Sydnor and Natalie Hunter – will be honored prior to the game.