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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The third-seeded Duke Blue Devils beat the reigning ACC and National Champion Maryland Terrapins 2-1 Friday evening at the ACC Field Hockey Championship. Duke advances to the championship game for the first time since 2003 and will play North Carolina on Sunday, breaking Maryland’s streak of three-straight conference titles.
“I just want to say how proud I am of this team, especially coming back after a hard-fought game yesterday,” said Duke head coach Pam Bustin. “We stuck with our game plan, and stuck to our belief that we could compete and win this game, and ultimately advance to the finals.”
Maryland opened the scoring when defender Colleen Gulick scored her first goal of the year 9:47 into the first half. The native of Spring City, Pa. knocked in a loose ball on the left doorstep after a penalty corner to give the Terrapins the early lead.
Rhian Jones, a senior midfielder for Duke, took a penalty corner from Emmie Le Marchand, set herself up at the top of the circle, and found the back of the cage to tie the game at 1-1 going into halftime.
Duke converted another penalty corner to grab the lead less than two minutes after halftime. Stefanie Fee found Jones who fired a shot low, setting up Le Marchand to tip the ball over Melissa Vassalotti, the Maryland goalkeeper. The goal was Le Marchand’s team-leading 16th of the season and gave the Blue Devils the lead.
Maryland pulled Vassalotti from the goal with just over five minutes left and was able to generate chances down the stretch. Duke goalkeeper Samantha Nelson made a kick save with a minute remaining, and the Terrapins had two penalty corners with under ten seconds left but were unable to convert and send the game to overtime.
“I am not sure exactly what happened; we called some plays and tried to execute them, but it’s just like any sport,” said Maryland head coach Missy Meharg on the two penalty corners at the end of the game. “It is a lot of pressure on those included in the play, especially with no time on the clock. We did the best that we could, and I don’t think there is anyone on our team that can look in the mirror and have any regrets. Duke scored both of their goals on very well executed penalty corners, and it was a little bit different for us.”
The Terrapins outshot the Blue Devils ten to nine and had eight penalty corners to Duke’s five.
The victory is the first for Duke over Maryland in ACC Championship play in six tries. With the win, the Blue Devils advance to play North Carolina at 1 p.m. Sunday in the championship game. The Tar Heels beat Duke 1-0 in double overtime in their only game this year.
More information on the 2011 ACC Field Hockey Championship can be found online at http://www.theacc.com/championships/11-acc-field-hockey-championship.html.