Nov. 14, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland field hockey team is set to begin the NCAA Tournament as the top seed, hosting the Great Danes of Albany on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park. Maryland is riding an eight-game winning streak, and last weekend claimed its seventh Atlantic Coast Conference championship when it defeated Wake Forest, 4-3, in the title game in Durham, N.C.
Maryland (18-2) is in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th consecutive season under head coach Missy Meharg. With five national titles to their credit, the Terrapins last won it all in 2006.
After outscoring their opponents 24-0 in the final three games of the regular season, the Terps' run to an ACC title was not so comfortable. The Terps faced 2-1 deficits in each of its tournament games. In the semifinal against Virginia, sophomore Meghan Dean (Marathon, N.Y./Marathon) tied the score in the final 15 minutes of regulation. Senior Ellen Ott (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) scored the game-winner off a penalty corner just minutes into overtime.
The final against No. 2 Wake Forest was tense and hard-fought throughout. Maryland scored first, with senior Danielle Keeley (Elkton, Md./North East) punching home a goal early in the first half. The Demon Deacons responded quickly, though, and took a one-goal lead into the intermission.
After halftime, junior Nicole Muracco (Sewell, N.J./Washington Township) tied the score, and senior Sarah Scholl (Center Valley, Pa./Southern Lehigh) gave the Terps a temporary 3-2 lead. Once again, though, Wake responded quickly to tie the score.
With under three minutes remaining, sophomore Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa./Wissahickon) sent a hard pass into the circle which Muracco deflected up and into the cage. Maryland withstood one final Wake Forest charge before the sidelines spilled onto the field in celebration of the title.
Senior Susie Rowe (London, England/Colfe's School), who registered a goal and an assist against Virginia and spearheaded a defense which allowed just one second-half goal during the tournament, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Muracco, O'Donnell, and junior back Brianna Davies (Annville, Pa./Palmyra) were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Maryland will face the America East champion Albany Great Danes. Albany claimed its first America East title last weekend with a 2-1 victory over New Hampshire in the title game. The Great Danes have been ranked or receiving votes at every step of the way this season, and are currently ranked No. 20 in the country.
Also playing in College Park will be Connecticut and Duke, who face off at 2 p.m. The winners of each game will play on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Due to the Maryland football game with North Carolina on Saturday afternoon, parking around the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex is limited. Spaces will be held in parking lot 4i for NCAA Field Hockey attendees. Attendees should indicate that they are there for the Field Hockey tournament. Parking is $15 per car and lots open at 9:30 a.m. Once lot 4i is full, all other cars will be directed to Terrapin Trail Garage and may park there for a fee of $15.