STORRS, Conn. –Maryland relied on its dominant defense Saturday, cruising to a 2-0 victory against Lafayette in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Terps (17-5) outshot the Leopards (18-3), 17-2 and held them without a corner. The Terrapin defensive unit recorded its ninth shutout of the season. Freshman Anna Dessoye and junior Jill Witmer scored Maryland’s two goals.
“Maryland’s defense played with an incredible amount of poise, discipline and structure,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “It was a really a great day by Lafayette. They were very quick to get numbers under the ball. Because of our great defensive structure and team defense, we were able to secure the win. It’s about surviving and advancing at this time, so we are excited to play Connecticut [Sunday}.”
With the win, the Terrapins advanced to play No. 4 Connecticut (19-2) at 2 p.m. Sunday in the national quarterfinals. The winner of Sunday’s game will move on to the national semifinals next weekend in Norfolk, Va.
Dessoye put the Terrapins on the board 3:27 into the game when she carried it just inside the circle and cracked a hard shot from the top for a one-goal lead.
The Terps had numerous offensive opportunities in the first, but the score remained 1-0 at the break. In the first half, Lafayette did not get off a shot or a corner.
Maryland’s defense held strong and held the Leopards without a shot for over 56 minutes of play. The Leopards turned up the pressure in the final minutes. Lafayette’s Haley Keenan cracked a shot in a hurry with three minutes to play, but junior goalkeeper Natalie Hunter was there for her first and only save of the day.
Junior Jill Witmer gave the Terrapins their second goal of the day when she tapped in a goal off a rebounded shot behind Lafayette’s keeper with 10:15 to play.
Maryland is 52-16 all-time in NCAA Tournament play for more tournament wins than any other school. They have advanced to 14 national semifinals under Meharg.
The Terps have won five of the last seven NCAA titles (2005, ’06, ’08, ’10, ’11) and have appeared in four straight NCAA title games.
The Terrapins entered the 2011 NCAA Tournament unseeded and welcomed third-seeded Syracuse, Iowa and Richmond to College Park for the first and second Rounds. They would beat seeds 3, 2, 1 (Syracuse, Old Dominion, North Carolina) en route to their seventh national title under Meharg and eighth overall.