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Nov. 2, 2012
CARY, N.C. - Hayley Brock and Becky Kaplan have been leaders for Maryland throughout the 2012 season, and on Friday night they led the Terrapins into the Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Soccer Championship finals.
Kaplan set up Brock for a first half goal, then added an unassisted goal of her own in the second half as the Terps posted a 2-0 win over third-seeded Wake Forest in the tournament's second semifinal match before 1,472 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Coach Jonathan Morgan's Maryland team (13-5-2) earned a spot opposite fifth-seeded Virginia (15-4-1) in Sunday's championship match (1 p.m., ESPNU). It will mark the first time in the ACC Championship's 25-year history that a team from the state of North Carolina will not play in the title game.
"It was a pretty special effort by our group tonight," Morgan said. "That was a heck of a team we just beat."
The Terps struck quickly, as Brock's goal off the assist from Kaplan gave Maryland a 1-0 lead 4:28 into the first half. The goal was Brock's team-leading 11th of the season.
"When you score a goal, it's always easier to play," Morgan said. "It takes off a little bit of stress, takes off a little bit of the nerves and the tension. We have a lot of young kids, so to score early allowed us to settle down and be confident. We were in a good place."
Brock credited the "good chemistry" she shares with Kaplan with fueling the quick strike.
"I knew she was going to play it through," Brock said. "I saw the goalie's positioning was on the opposite side, and I just kind of poked it toward the opposite corner. I knew I was strong enough to shield (the defender) off, and I just kept her to my back so I could poke it through.
Kaplan gave the Terps a 2-0 lead in the 53rd minute, playing her own first shot off the post and driving it home on the rebound for her 10th goal of the year.
Wake Forest coach Tony da Luz said the Terrapins' formula for success bore an uncanny resemblance to that they used in posting a 2-1 victory over the Demon Deacons in the regular-season meeting between the teams.
"It was identical, really, in the way that they scored," da Luz said. "In the first match they scored in the first five minutes on a turnover and counter-attack for their first goal. Their second goal (in the regular season) was another turnover and counter attack, and it was absolutely identical to their second goal tonight.
"Obviously, we didn't learn from that first one, but that's just the way it is. They have dangerous players up front, and they have so much speed in Kaplan and Hayley Brock. That puts them in good position to defend and counter, because they have those two players who can get behind you. You can never feel comfortable playing against them."
Kaplan made a serious bid for a second goal with 20:10 remaining in the match, but her short-range attempt from the left side of the post was thwarted by Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe's diving save.
Maryland held a narrow 11-10 edge in shots, but an 8-4 advantage in corner kicks. Bledsoe made five saves in goal for the Demon Deacons, while Maryland's Rachelle Beanlands stopped a pair of Wake Forest shots.
Maryland reached the ACC Championship finals for the second time in three seasons. The Terps will be seeking their first conference title on Sunday, and Morgan will be bidding to become the first women's soccer head coach in ACC history to win the championship in his first season at the helm.
Wake Forest (13-5-3) came up short in its bids to capture the conference title for the second time and reach the finals for a third straight year. But the Demon Deacons, who reached the 2011 Women's College Cup, are hopeful of another high seeding when NCAA Championship pairings are announced on Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Maryland claimed a 3-1 win over Virginia in the regular-season meeting between teams at College Park on Sept. 27. Senior Olivia Wagner scored two of the Terps' three second-half goals as Maryland overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit.