NCAA ACCtion: @ACCFieldHockey Claims Three Spots in Final Four

With wins on Sunday, three ACC teams have advanced to the 2013 NCAA Field Hockey Final Four. Maryland and Duke posted wins over nonconference opponents, while North Carolina advanced past league-foe Wake Forest.

#1 Terrapins Move to Sixth Straight Final Four

The top-seeded Maryland field hockey team advanced to its sixth straight Final Four Sunday with a 3-2 win over No. 8 Princeton at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.

ACC Offensive Player of the Year Jill Witmer scored twice, once to tie and once for the lead, to send Maryland (22-1) to its 17th overall Final Four and 16th under head coach Missy Meharg. The Tigers (14-5) led twice in the first half, until Witmer and the Terrapins took control just before the break.

Princeton struck first off of a penalty corner 90 seconds into the match. Sydney Kirby sent in the first goal of the afternoon on a deflection.
Maryland answered back off its first penalty corner less than four minutes later. Sophomore Anna Dessoye deflected in senior Ali McEvoy's shot off the set play for the equalizer.

The teams battled through the rest of the period. With 33 seconds to go in the first half, Princeton's Allison Evans sent in a high, hard shot from the right side of the circle for a 2-1 lead.

Less than 30 seconds later, Witmer dribbled into the Terps' offensive circle herself and scored through multiple defenders to tie it with six seconds to go before halftime.

Just over three minutes into the second half, sophomore Alyssa Parker fed Witmer for the Terps' first lead of the day. Parker had a look herself, which was blocked by the Princeton keeper, then dished it to Witmer for a quick shot from the right post.

Maryland outshot Princeton, 14-9, and each team had four penalty corners.

Duke Headed to NCAA Final Four

The Duke field hockey program will return to the NCAA Final Four for the first time since 2006 after defeating No. 10 Massachusetts 4-1 Sunday in the quarterfinals of the tournament at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium.

The fourth-seeded and fifth-ranked Blue Devils (16-6) advance to the national semifinals where they will meet top-seeded and top-ranked Maryland (22-1) for the third time this season Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. at Old Dominion's L.R. Hill Complex in Norfolk, Va.

Four different Duke players registered goals, including senior forward Emmie Le Marchand, who also tallied two assists to help the squad move on to the semifinals for the first time under third-year head coach Pam Bustin.

Le Marchand put the Blue Devils on the board in the 10th minute, notching her team-leading 16th goal of the season on a cross from sophomore Aileen Johnson. A native of Worcester, England, Le Marchand has totaled four goals in NCAA Championship play after completing a hat trick in Duke's first round win over New Hampshire. She has also tallied a point in six consecutive games heading into the national semifinals.

Much like in Saturday's contest against the Wildcats, Sunday's quarterfinal match featured aggressive play in the midfield. Duke and Massachusetts combined for just five shots in the opening frame, but the Blue Devils were efficient offensively, collecting a second goal in the 23rd minute on a penalty corner strike by sophomore Hannah Barreca. Le Marchand and junior Abby Beltrani received assists on the play and Duke took a 2-0 lead into the locker room at the break.

Massachusetts made it a one-goal game less than 10 minutes into the second half on a successful penalty stroke by leading scorer Brooke Sabia. The Minutewomen continued to press forward over the next few possessions, earning five penalty corner opportunities in the final 35 minutes. However, the Blue Devil defense fended off the visiting squad and moved quickly in transition to go up by two at the 14:05 mark when junior forward Jessica Buttinger tapped in a rebound at the front post for her seventh goal of the season.

Freshman Heather Morris added a goal in the 59th minute on a penalty corner play with Le Marchand and Christus assisting to ensure the squad a spot in the national semifinals for the fifth time in program history.

For the match, the Minutewomen held an 11-9 advantage in shots and totaled five penalty corners to four by Duke. Massachusetts keeper Sam Carlino recorded two saves while redshirt sophomore Lauren Blazing had four for the Blue Devils.

Tar Heels Advance to Field Hockey Final Four with 5-2 Win over Wake Forest

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For the fifth year in a row and the 18th time in program history, North Carolina has earned a spot in field hockey's final four. The third-ranked Tar Heels defeated No. 13 Wake Forest 5-2 Sunday in an NCAA Tournament second round game at Francis E. Henry Stadium to advance to the NCAA semifinals. Carolina will face No. 4 Connecticut Friday in Norfolk, Va., on the campus of Old Dominion University.

The Tar Heels are now 18-5, while the Demon Deacons finished their season at 12-9. UNC is one of three Atlantic Coast Conference teams to make the final four, along with top-seeded Maryland and fourth-seeded Duke. UConn advanced by beating Michigan State, which scored a first-round upset against second-seeded Syracuse, the fourth ACC team hosting first and second-round games this weekend.

Sunday's game was the third meeting of the season for UNC and Wake Forest. Carolina had won the previous two – 4-2 in the regular season and 3-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament quarterfinals just over a week ago – but it was Wake that got out front first on Sunday, just 1:50 into the game. The Demon Deacons drove into the circle, where UNC keeper Sassi Ammer saved the first shot, by Kari Walkley. But Taylor Rhea gathered the rebound and got the ball past Ammer to put WFU up 1-0.

The visitors held the lead until the ninth minute of play. On UNC's third penalty corner of the game, sophomore Nina Notman tied the score with her 14th goal of the season, assisted by sophomore Emily Wold and graduate student Janne Grove.

The game stayed knotted at 1-1 for just over 22 minutes, but in the 31st minute Notman struck again with the gamewinner. On a penalty corner, UNC's initial shot was saved, but Notman grabbed the rebound on the right side and put it back for a lead Carolina would never give up.

The 2-1 advantage held until the 46th minute of play, when Notman sent a hard ball into the circle and freshman Lauren Moyer got a quick deflection in front of the goal to put UNC up 3-1. Just over three minutes later the Tar Heels struck again, using sharp passing and teamwork. On the run, sophomore Casey Di Nardo passed the ball to junior Charlotte Craddock, who gave it right back and put Di Nardo in perfect position to score her 14th goal of the season.

With the Tar Heels up 4-1, Wake drew its first penalty corner of the game in the 56th minute. Jess McFadyen deflected in a shot from Anna Kozniuk to draw the Demon Deacons within two, and Wake immediately called a timeout. Less than a minute after the restart, however, UNC struck again to make it 5-2. Craddock got a pass from Wold at the right side of the cage and fired a shot just inside the left post for her 12th goal of the season and fourth of the weekend.

On the day, UNC had 33 shots and Wake Forest keeper Valerie Dahmen made a career-high 19 saves.

No. 13 Wake Forest Falls to No. 3 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament

No. 3 North Carolina scored four straight goals on Sunday as No. 3 Wake Forest fell to the Tar Heels 5-2 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament at Henry Stadium on the campus of the University of North Carolina.

Wake Forest finishes the season with a 12-9 overall record and a 1-5 mark in the ACC. The Demon Deacons beat No. 6 Old Dominion 3-2 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina advances to the semifinals of the tournament and improves to 18-5 on the year.

Seniors Jess McFadyen and Taylor Rhea each had a goal in the game. Rhea finishes her last season at Wake Forest with a career-high 17 goals and four assists. McFadyen ends the 2013 season with five goals and two assists.