#1 Terps Claim ACC Crown Over #2 UNC
Oct. 24, 2009
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The No. 1-ranked Maryland field hockey team held off No. 2 North Carolina 4-1 in a rainy, wet match Saturday afternoon and claimed the ACC regular season title. The Terrapins moved to 17-0 on the year, a first in school history. With the win, Maryland claimed the No. 1 -seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament.
Senior goalkeeper Alicia Grater kept the Tar Heels scoreless until the final minute of play with a new career-high 12 saves. Her previous best was 10 saves against Duke in the Terrapins' last loss, which was in last season.
Senior Nicole Muracco, Maryland's all-time leading scorer, scored twice for the Terps. She has now tied her own career high of 25 goals in a season and is just four away from owning the school record. Senior Emma Thomas and junior Katie O'Donnell each added a goal and O'Donnell added an assist as well. Prior to Saturday's classic conference battle, North Carolina had allowed its opponents just four goals on the year.
"We are exceedingly proud of this team. The staff feels very good about our preparation tactically in terms of our progress last week and the way the team responded to our preparation," Head coach Missy Meharg said. "Katie was stellar and Nicole finished. They were all just really well-executed shots."
Early in the first half, the Tar Heels were ahead in shots, 8-1.
Meharg said, "Ali G.'s new career high couldn't have come at a better time. We settled in and gained control."
Neither team found the goal until 25 minutes into the first half when the Terps got rolling. Thomas scored off of a penalty corner setup from senior Alicia Morawski and Alexis Pappas, who both notched assists on the play. North Carolina's leading scorer, Melanie Brill, received a yellow card on the play for an infraction against Maryland's Megan Frazer and was forced to sit out, giving Maryland an advantage.
Less than 30 seconds later and an exact minute after Thomas' goal, O'Donnell intercepted a pass and found Muracco who tipped in the Terrapins' second goal from the right side of the cage. Maryland led at the half, 2-0.
Between the two teams, five shots were taken in the first 15 minutes of the second half before Muracco found a way to put in a no-look shot from senior Kristina Foster to expand the Terrapins' lead to 3-0. Seven minutes later, O'Donnell herself scored unassisted with a hard shot to the left of the goal to finish off Maryland's scoring at 4-0.
North Carolina's Jen Slocum scored her first goal of the season with less than 45 seconds remaining in the game to finalize the score at 4-1.
The Tar Heels were awarded eight penalty corner opportunities to the Terrapins' four, one of the first times this season Maryland did not have the upper-hand in penalty corners. A strong Terrapin performance from the Terrapin defensive unit held the Tar Heels scoreless on all of their penalty corners. North Carolina also outshot Maryland, 21-14, and North Caroling goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer notched five saves in the game.
Saturday's game was the Terps' eleventh over ranked opponents this year and the sixth consecutive, both firsts in school history. Prior to Saturday, Maryland had never played and beaten six consecutive ranked teams in the regular season.
The Terrapins will return home to face No. 12 Stanford Friday night at 7 p.m. The careers of Maryland's seven seniors, Grater, Thomas, Muracco, Foster, Pappas, Brianna Davies, and Ameliet Rischen will be celebrated and recognized prior to game time.