Nov. 6, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The top-seeded Maryland field hockey team defeated the No. 4-seed Wake Forest 3-2 Friday afternoon in the semifinal round of the ACC Tournament to advance to the championship game for the second straight year. The Terrapins will face the No. 3-seed and tournament host Virginia. These two teams last met in the ACC final in 2000.
"The ACC is the NCAA. To have an opportunity to play with the likes of these athletes and these coaching staffs is just a real honor. It is about taking the game to another level. Today, we learned a lot about things we didn't know before," Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said.
In the first half, both teams struggled to find an offensive groove through a series of back-and-forth penalty corners, none of which were successful.
Senior Nicole Muracco was the first to find an offensive rhythm 17 minutes into the game when she scored off of a Katie O'Donnell pass from down the middle. O'Donnell stole the ball from a Demon Deacon defender and dished it to Muracco in front of the cage for the score, which put the Terps up 1-0. Muracco, Maryland's most prolific scorer, is just three goals away from breaking Maryland's single-season goal record.
Senior Emma Thomas, who is third on the team in goals, hit her sweet spot on the Terps' fourth penalty corner setup inserted by O'Donnell and stopped by senior Alexis Pappas with ten minutes remaining in the half. With her two assists in the game, O'Donnell is just four assists away from owning both the ACC and Maryland career assists records.
After trailing 2-0 at the half, the Demon Deacons came into the second period looking to get on track. The Terrapin defense held strong despite giving up ten penalty corners overall and six coming in the second half. The Deacons only scored on one corner.
Senior goalkeeper Alicia Grater had a strong performance to notch six saves on the day, including four in the second half. Three minutes into the half, senior defender Alicia Morawski made a diving defensive save to keep the Deacons scoreless for a while longer.
With 18:35 left in second half, senior Ameliet Rischen scored off of a pass from fellow senior Brianna Davies, who intercepted a pass on the Maryland half of the field and brought it up the sideline before passing into Rischen in the middle for the score.
Wake Forest's Melissa Martin, the team's assists leader, got the Deacons on the board when she stole the ball near midfield, passed it to freshman Lizzie Rae, who is Wake Forest's goals leader. Rae shot it back to Martin for the score.
The goal seemed to awaken the Demon Deacons who put up numerous offensive threats and Wake Forest cut it back to a one-goal lead for the Terps when senior Aileen Davis scored off of a Rae rebounded shot to make the score 3-2.
"It's a little bit different playing Wake Forest. They've got some talented players and they've got some players that aren't as experienced. You have to match up your more experienced players were their players are. In some cases, that may have taken us out of sync a little bit. All in all, that's the nature of a really high competitive spirit game," Meharg said.
The championship game will take place on Sunday at noon and will be televised live on the conference's regional sports network (RSN-TV), which includes FSN South, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, and the New England Sports Network. The Terrapins have not won consecutive ACC Tournaments since they won four from 1998-2001.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Sunday's game will be broadcast live at WMUCSports.com.
All of Thursday's and Friday's games are available on demand via ACC Select at ACC Select.
Follow along on Twitter at @theACCchamps on Twitter.
For all ACC Championship information, please visit ACC Championship Central.