NCAA ACCtion: Duke Advances to NCAA Final


This marks the 15th straight year with at least one ACC team in the final and 19 of the last 22 NCAA finalists have been ACC teams.


Duke Knocks Off Maryland to Reach NCAA Title Game 

Duke field hockey is back in the title game.

The Blue Devils (17-6) outlasted top-ranked Maryland, 3-2, to advance to their first NCAA championship game since 2005. Head coach Pam Bustin's squad moves on to face the winner of the second semifinal contest between Connecticut and North Carolina Sunday, Nov. 24 at 4:45 p.m. for a chance to capture the program's first national championship.

Senior forward Emmie Le Marchand paced the attack with one goal and one assist, while redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and a stalwart Duke defense kept the Terrapins off the board for the final 41 minutes to ensure the semifinal win.

The match opened with a flurry of offensive activity and Duke penetrated the scoring circle in the third minute to capitalize first on a feed from Le Marchand to junior Jessica Buttinger. The goal was Buttinger's eighth of the year and gave the Blue Devils an early advantage before Maryland evened up the score just minutes later on a penalty corner opportunity with Hayley Turner providing the finish.

After Blazing and the defense weathered a couple of dangerous penalty corner plays by the Terrapins, Duke earned a penalty corner of its own midway through the half. Senior Paula Heimbach redirected the hit by classmate Brenna Rescigno for her first goal of the season and second of her career.

The Blue Devils went up by two goals in the 28th minute when Le Marchand tallied her fifth goal of the tournament, putting back her own rebound past Maryland keeper Natalie Hunter. Once again the Terrapins were quick to respond, with Jill Witmer connecting on a cross inside to teammate Anna Dessoye less than a minute later. Neither side scored the rest of the way in the period, sending Duke into the locker room at the intermission with a 3-2 lead.

Shots were even at 8-8 after the first 35 minutes while Maryland led in penalty corners, 3-1.

The Terrapins came out firing in the second half, logging six shots in the first 12 minutes of the period, but Blazing and the defense remained solid against the bevy of attacking pressure.  The Blue Devils went a man up at the 11:47 mark when a Maryland player was sent off with a yellow card, setting up a Duke penalty corner with just over nine minutes to play. Freshman Heather Morris sent a shot just wide left of the cage and the Terrapins were once again unable to get past the Duke defense on their own penalty corner a few possessions later. Blazing posted two more saves in the final three minutes to propel the squad to its first NCAA title game appearance under Bustin.

Blazing finished with 12 saves – including eight in the second half – while Maryland’s Hunter totaled four on the other end. For the match, the Terrapins led in shots 19-10 and held a 6-4 advantage in penalty corners.

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UNC Falls To Connecticut In NCAA Semifinal Shootout 

North Carolina's 2013 field hockey season came to an end Friday evening in the NCAA Championship semifinals at L.R. Hill Sports Complex, where the No. 3 Tar Heels fell to No. 4 Connecticut 2-1 after a penalty shootout. The score remained tied at 1-1 through two 15-minute overtime periods, sending the game into the shootout tie-breaker. In the back-and-forth, best-of-five series, UConn made two of its first four shots, and when UNC missed its fourth the game was over. 

UNC finishes its season 18-6 after reaching the final four for the fifth consecutive year and the sixth time in the past seven. The Tar Heels last won the title in 2009 and had reached the championship game but finished as the runner-up in each of the past three years. 

This year it's Connecticut that will play in the final, facing No. 5 Duke on Sunday at 4 p.m. for the crown. The Blue Devils advanced with a 3-2 win over No. 1 Maryland in the first semifinal on Friday. 

Friday's matchup was the second meeting between the Tar Heels and Huskies at Old Dominion's home field in less than a month. Just as in the first matchup, which UNC won 2-1 on Oct. 26 in a regular-season, neutral-site matchup, Connecticut scored first and led 1-0 at halftime. 

The Huskies got on the board in the fifth minute of play on their first corner of the game. Marie Elena Bolles scored the goal, on a pass from Roisin Upton. UConn held the lead until the 44th minute, when Carolina tied it up. Tar Heel junior Charlotte Craddock dribbled into the circle and when UConn keeper Sarah Mansfield came out to play the ball, Craddock carried the ball to the left side of the cage and sent it behind the keeper to the right corner of the goal for her 13th goal of the year.

The game stayed knotted at 1-1 through the rest of regulation. Although the Tar Heels led 7-0 in shots in the second half, they were unable to pick up another goal.

In the seven-on-seven overtime periods, it was Connecticut that created more opportunities. The Huskies has three shots and a corner in the first period, and five shots and a corner in the second, while UNC didn't have a shot or corner in either period.

In the shootout, Connecticut went first and UNC keeper Sassi Ammer stopped the shot by Upton. But Mansfield stopped Casey Di Nardo's shot and UConn's Anne Jeute then made hers to give UConn a 1-0 lead. Next up for UNC were Emily Wold and Loren Shealy, neither of whom was able to score. Ammer stopped a shot by Bolles, but Chrissy Davidson was able to make hers, putting UConn ahead 2-0. Emma Bozek went fourth and when she was unable to score the Tar Heels were two down with only one shooter remaining, ending the game.