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Nov. 2, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Freshman Sarah Sprink tallied her first career hat trick and the Maryland defense limited a potent Virginia offense as the Terrapins defeated the Cavaliers, 4-1, Friday evening in the semifinals of the 2012 ACC Field Hockey Championship.
With the win, Maryland (15-4, 3-2 ACC) avenges a 3-2 loss to the Cavaliers on Sept. 28 and advances to the ACC Championship on Sunday at 1 p.m to face No. 1 North Carolina.
"We had the mentality that we wanted to step up our game," said Sprink. "We wanted to show everyone that we can play better than we did yesterday."
Sunday's title game will be a rematch of the last three national championship games, two of the last three ACC finals, and will be the 14th meeting between the two schools in the 30-year history of the ACC Championship.
"Our team has been looking for a breakout game all season, to be honest," Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. "We're a team that's still evolving. We're kind of just evolving and getting really good."
Virginia falls to 15-5 and 4-1 in conference play and now awaits the NCAA Tournament selection this upcoming Tuesday.
"We came out and gave them just a little too much room to attack and make their passes, and once you are doing that, you know you are always running back," said Virginia head coach Michele Madison.
Janessa Pope got the Terrapins on the board in the 11th minute. The senior fired a shot from the right doorstep that was blocked by Virginia goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone. The rebound found its way back to Pope, who didn't miss on the second opportunity for her sixth of the season.
Maryland pushed the lead to 2-0 shortly before halftime on the third goal of the year for Lindsey Puckett. Megan Frazer sent a pass through the box to a waiting Puckett on the back corner who found the back of the net.
The Terrapin penalty corner unit scored two quick goals early in the second period. Eight minutes in, Sarah Sprink blasted a ball past a diving Johnstone, assisted by Katie Gerzabek and Harriet Tibble. The trio combined to score again three minutes later for a 4-1 lead.
Virginia's Paige Selenski tallied her league-leading 26th goal in the 58th minute, driving through the Maryland defense and launching a shot to the corner past goalkeeper Natalie Hunter. The score was Selenski's 99th career goal, tying her with Maryland's Katie O'Donnell for second in ACC history and placing her two behind former Cavalier Meridith Thorpe for the conference record.
Sprink completed her first career hat trick on another penalty corner with under three minutes remaining in the game, chipping a rebound over a sprawled Johnstone. Spring leads all freshman in the ACC with 10 goals in her rookie campaign.
Hunter made three saves and allowed one goal in the win, and Johnstone stopped seven shots in the loss.
Maryland outshot Virginia, 13-6, and held a 6-3 advantage in penalty corners.
More information on the 2012 ACC Field Hockey Championship can be found online at http://theacc.co/FHChamp.