NEWTON, Mass. – The top-ranked Maryland field hockey team scored twice in the second half Sunday to win its 10th Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Tournament MVP Jill Witmer scored four minutes into the second half, then with 26 minutes to go, Anna Dessoye sent in a shot off a rebound for the two-goal lead.
Maryland (20-1) won its 10th ACC title, all of which have come under head coach Missy Meharg. The Terps last won three straight in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Witmer was joined on the All-ACC Team by Hayley Turner, Ali McEvoy and Sarah Sprink.
Due to a yellow card assessed to the Terrapins in the final 10 minutes of the game and the Tar Heels (15-5) pulling their keeper for an extra field player, the Terrapin defense dug deep and completely shut down the Heels’ threatening offense.
“In the beginning of the game, we fell away a lot, so the momentum went toward North Carolina,” Meharg said. “When we settled in and really started passing, it was evident that we were in control of the game. There are 10 field players for each team and Maryland used all 10 all the time. We’re just so proud of our team. Their patience, their footwork around the ball, their communication to protect each other was outstanding.”
The Tar Heels controlled the first five minutes of the game offensively, but the Terrapins, who have the nation’s best offense, controlled the rest of the first half. They outshot the Heels, 6-2, in the scoreless first period.
Right off the bat in the second half, the Terrapins had three opportunities to get on the board. Witmer gave them the 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the second half. Turner sent her a pass from the baseline for a point-blank shot and she tucked a high shot over the goalie.
With 26 minutes to go, sophomore Dessoye made it a two-goal lead for the Terrapins after she buried in Ali McEvoy’s rebounded shot on a penalty corner.
North Carolina pulled its goalkeeper Sassi Ammer out of goal for an extra field player after a timeout with 13:22 to play. The Terrapins were assessed a five-minute yellow card with eight minutes to play, so the Heels held an advantage of two field players. The Heels took five of their eight shots in that time period, but the Terrapin defense made stops. All-ACC goalkeeper Natalie Hunter made both of her saves on the day in that time frame.
Next, the Terrapins will await their NCAA Tournament fate with the NCAA Selection Show Sunday at 10 p.m. on the NCAA.com. For information on the Terps’ game time and opponent in the NCAA Tournament First Round Saturday, log on to umterps.com.
Six Terrapins were named to the 23-member All-ACC Team Wednesday. The Terrapins had more honorees than any of the other six league schools. Seniors Jill Witmer, Ali McEvoy, goalkeeper Natalie Hunter and junior Maxine Fluharty were all voted to the 11-member First Team. Sophomore Sarah Sprink and junior Katie Gerzabek earned spots on the Second Team.
The Terrapins are the unanimous No. 1 in both the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I National Coaches poll and the latest NCAA RPI rankings released Nov. 5. The Terps have held the top spot in both polls since early October.