North Carolina Heads to NCAA Field Hockey Final Four

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Fourth-ranked North Carolina earned a spot in the field hockey final four in emphatic fashion Sunday, shutting out second-ranked Maryland 3-0 in an NCAA Tournament second-round matchup on the Terrapins’ home field. With consecutive 3-0 wins at UM’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex – the Tar Heels beat No. 12 Stanford Saturday in a first-round game – Carolina (19-5) is headed to the NCAA semifinals for the eighth year in a row and the 21st time in program history. Sophomore midfielder Ashley Hoffman scored twice and senior goalkeeper Shannon Johnson earned her second shutout in as many days to lead the Tar Heels to the win.

“I’m absolutely thrilled for the team,” said UNC coach Karen Shelton, who has led her squad to the final four more times than any coach in NCAA field hockey history. “Only four teams get to be busy this week and it’s something to celebrate.”

UNC will face Connecticut on Friday in Norfolk, Va., and Delaware and Princeton will meet in the other semifinal game at Old Dominion’s L.R. Hill Complex. The winners play on Sunday (Nov. 20) for the NCAA crown. Carolina has won on six previous occasions, most recently in 2009.

Although the Tar Heels are headed for the NCAA semifinals for the eighth year in a row, this marks the first time since 2009 that UNC reached the final four by winning on the road. The top four seeds host and Carolina has been among that group the past six years. But this year, the Tar Heels failed to earn a seed and were slotted for College Park, where Maryland (18-5) was the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed. In Saturday’s first round games, the Terrapins played through two overtimes before advancing in a penalty shootout against UMass to set up Sunday’s matchup.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After a hard-fought comeback that equalized the score with under five minutes remaining in regulation, the No. 3 Syracuse field hockey team (15-4) gave up a goal in the second overtime period, falling to No. 6 UConn (22-1) 3-2 in the NCAA Quarterfinal.

Trailing for over 30 minutes in the second half, Syracuse mounted a late surge to score the equalizer and threaten on even more occasions in the waning moments and overtimes, but the Huskies defense turned away the Orange's potential game-winning chances and the Huskies netted the winner five minutes into the second overtime period.

"First off, credit to UConn for advancing to the final four," said head coach Ange Bradley. "They have a stingy defense and it took a while for us to figure out how to manipulate and beat it, but as time went on we were able to do that. I was proud of our kids because they didn't quit and we were able to get back in it."

The loss concludes the season for the Orange, and closes the careers of the 2016 senior class, which is just is one-of-five classes in program history to win 70 games in their career and finishes with the third best winning percentage in program history (.824).

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 7 Virginia field hockey team (16-8) had its season come to a close with a 3-2 loss to No. 14 Princeton (12-7) in the quarterfinals of the 2016 NCAA Field Hockey Championship on Sunday (Nov. 13) at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex in University Park, Pa.

The game was tied 2-2 in the final seconds of the match and seemed destined for overtime. Princeton’s Sophia Tornetta fired off a shot as time was expiring, but the horn on the scoreboard was inaudible, making it difficult to tell if the shot was taken in time. After the two field referees and the sideline official conferred, it was decided to allow the goal, which sent Princeton on to the NCAA Semifinals next weekend in Norfolk, Va. Video referral was not available during the NCAA Championship.

“I am proud of this team for having such a great season,” said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. “This was a terrible way to lose. The fourth years put their heart and soul out there on the turf. The one solace is that they did finish their careers as ACC Champions.”

Princeton scored its three goals on its only three shots of the game, the first two coming off corners.

DURHAM, N.C. – The top-seeded Duke field hockey team saw its run in the 2016 NCAA Championship end in heartbreaking fashion Sunday in a 3-2 overtime loss to Delaware in the quarterfinal round. The Blue Devils were defeated on their home turf at Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium for the first time on the season to finish the year at 16-4.

Leading 2-0 into the 62nd minute, Duke was unable to hold off a Delaware attack that knotted up the contest before the end of regulation. The Blue Hens’ Greta Nauck tapped home the game winner 2:17 into overtime to send her squad to the NCAA semifinals.

“Even through some turnovers or through some unfortunate situations on the field, we found a way to get the ball back or to keep the possession,” said head coach Pam Bustin. “I thought we did a good job with that. At the end, Delaware did put the pressure on. They bumped somebody up and they were putting more pressure on us. We sustained it very well but got some unfortunate breaks that started building up and putting the pressure on our defense.”

The Blue Devils controlled possession for much of the opening half, outshooting Delaware 11-2 in the first 35 minutes. Despite Duke generating a number of promising looks at the cage, the match remained scoreless at the break.