Stellar Defense Lifts Terps to NCAA Finals

May 27, 2011

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STONY BROOK, N.Y. - A tenacious defensive effort quelled a normally potent Blue Devil attack Friday as top-seeded Maryland topped No. 5 Duke, 14-8, in the semifinals of the NCAA Championship.

Fueled by the energy from Maryland's stingy defensive showing, senior Sarah Mollison and sophomore Katie Schwarzmann propelled the offense with four goals apiece. Senior Laura Merrifield added a hat trick.

Maryland (21-1) got the better end of a low-scoring affair in the first half, taking a 5-2 lead into halftime. The Terps bested their rival in nearly every category, including a 5-3 advantage in the integral draw control. Mollison and Merrifield led the attack in the first stanza with two goals apiece.

The Terps turned their offense up a notch in the second half, kicking off the stanza with three unanswered goals and ultimately outscoring the Blue Devils, 9-6, in the period. Six different Terps got in on the second half scoring including Alex Aust, Kristy Black, Beth Glaros, Mollison, Merrifield and Schwarzmann.

Iliana Sanza paced the backline with a career-high five ground balls. Brittany Poist added three ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers to aid the defense, which held its 18th consecutive opponent to 10 or fewer goals.

"I think you can tell by the smiles on our faces that we are really thrilled about where we are right now. We are excited about having the opportunity to compete for a national championship on Sunday," head coach Cathy Reese said. "I can't say enough of how proud I am of this group."

With the win Friday, Maryland advances to its nation-leading 16th NCAA championship game and will face Northwestern in a rematch of last season's title bout. The championship is slated for Sunday at 4 p.m. and will be shown live on CSN+ and on tape delay on CSN at 7:30 p.m.

NOTES: Sarah Mollison moved up to fourth all-time in career points (272) at Maryland with four on Friday. The senior Tewaaraton finalist also climbed to sixth in single-season points (101). She is also now ninth with 153 career goals. Katie Schwarzmann is now 10th in single-season goals at Maryland (63), passing Kelly Amonte.