Nov. 20, 2009

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -
The top-seeded Maryland field hockey team advanced to its second consecutive NCAA national championship game Friday afternoon with its 7-5 win over No. 4 Princeton. The match was one of the highest-scoring in NCAA Tournament history. The 23-0 Terps, 2008's national champions, are looking for their seventh national title.

"We are fortunate. We are exceedingly proud to have played with a team that is just so fast and we haven't been in that situation before where we've given up a three-goal lead," head coach Missy Meharg said. "I commend the women for taking the challenge and handling it with maturity. It's very exciting to be back in the national championship game."

Junior Katie O'Donnell, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and the Mid Atlantic Region's Player of the Year, had a record-breaking day with a hat trick and three assists. Her first assist came 13 minutes into the game and broke both the ACC and Maryland career assist records with 72. That assist also gave O'Donnell her 200th career point. She is the 24th player in NCAA history to break 200 points. Her nine-point performance in the game is the most by any player in an NCAA semifinal or final game.

The Tigers struck first seven minutes into the game when Michelle Cesan scored off a penalty corner. Six minutes later, senior Emma Thomas herself off O'Donnell's record-breaking assist and a stop by senior Alexis Pappas. Five minutes later, Thomas scored on another penalty corner, again from O'Donnell and Pappas to make the score 2-1. With just 12 minutes remaining in the half, O'Donnell attacked from the right side, cut in front of the cage and chipped in the shot to put the Terps ahead 3-1 at the half.

O'Donnell continued her stellar performance early in the second half when she scored off a breakaway assist from senior Nicole Muracco to put the score at 4-1.

Just over a minute later, Princeton's Kaitlyn Donovan converted on a penalty corner to start Princeton's 3-0 run that would eventually tie the score. The Tigers' Katie Reinprecht scored two unassisted goals to equalize the score at four-all with just fewer than 20 minutes remaining in the game.

Freshman Megan Frazer gave the Terrapins back the lead with a goal from the center of the circle. With eight minutes remaining in the game, senior Ameliet Rischen scored while sliding in from in front of the goal with the assist from O'Donnell. O'Donnell's third assist tied the record of 13 assists in her NCAA Tournament career. She is three assists from breaking the Maryland single-season assists record of 33.

O'Donnell's third goal came four minutes later, unassisted, when she caught Princeton's goalkeeper, Jennifer King, out of the cage. The Tigers' Kathleen Sharkey finalized the score at 7-5.

Maryland had nine penalty corners in the first half and 13 overall to Princeton's ten overall. The Tigers outshot the Terrapins 13-8 in the second half and senior goalkeeper Alicia Grater notched five saves in the second period to preserve the win. Senior Brianna Davies notched a defensive save in the final minutes as well. The final shots total was Maryland 19 to Princeton's 16.

Maryland will play the winner of the No. 3 Virginia/No. 2 North Carolina game Sunday at noon at Kentner Stadium on the campus of Wake Forest University. The game will be broadcast live on CBS College Sports Network and fans can listen live at WMUCSports.com.