Nov. 19, 2010

By David Driver
Special to

Katie O'Donnell, the senior standout for Maryland, had a vision before Friday's NCAA Division I field hockey semifinal against Ohio State.

It was really weird,” she said. I had a hard time sleeping last night. I dreamt a lot about field hockey. I had a dream last night I was going to score a tip-in goal."

And that is exactly what happened against the Buckeyes as O'Donnell deflected a ball from teammate Harriet Tibble late in the second half for her third goal as the Terps came back to beat Ohio State 3-1 and advance to Sunday's championship game.

"We just made eye contact," O'Donnell said of Tibble. "I ran to the ball and tipped it in."

O'Donnell became the first person to score a hat trick twice in an NCAA semifinals or finals.

"I am glad Katie is on my team," Maryland head coach Missy Meharg deadpanned after the game.

It was the first Final Four appearance for Ohio State. The Buckeyes' head coach is Anne Wilkinson, who was roommate and teammate of Meharg in the 1980s at the University of Delaware.

"We have never played them in the post-season. I hope to get some time with (Wilkinson) this evening," Meharg, now in her 23rd year at Maryland.

The Terps (22-1) will play North Carolina for the NCAA title on its home field Sunday.

"I am excited. This is the way you want to finish it," said Alicia Morawski, a senior defender for the Terps.

It will be fifth time UNC and Maryland will meet for the title. That's the most any two teams have clashed and will be a repeat of the 2009 title game. Maryland has won three of the last five NCAA titles.

O'Donnell now has 32 goals this season. "She is a problem because she is hard to find a lot of times" on the field, Wilkinson said. "She has a great stick. She can assist. She can score goals.”

Ohio State's Jena Cacciatore opened scoring with an unassisted goal with 30:26 left in the first half. Her backhand shot from left of the goal went off keeper Melissa Vassalotti and into the net.

"We came out strong the first 15 minutes," Wilkinson said. "Maryland made some adjustments and we had some hard time managing their numbers in the midfield. They have fantastic goal scoring. They are able to execute. They move the ball well."

Maryland's O'Donnell tied the game with 18:22 left in the first half. The goal came off a pass from freshman Ali McEvoy off a corner with a shot to the left post.

Maryland made it 2-1 with 26:14 left in the game as ODonnell scored unassisted and increased the lead to 3-1 with 7:03 to play on a shot from about 26 yards out by ODonnell, her third of the game before a partisan crowd of 1,526 fans.

"I love having those fans behind me," said O'Donnell, who has seven career hat tricks.

OSU ended the year 18-5.

"It means so much to us," Ohio State senior Cacciatore said of making the Final Four. "We have said time and again that was our number one goal. We had so much faith in each other. We knew it was an attainable goal and I am so proud to be here."