Nov. 7, 2010

CARY, N.C. - Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe saved three Maryland penalty kicks and the Demon Deacons made all three of their attempts to give the Wake Forest women's soccer team a 3-1 shootout win and its first-ever ACC Championship on Sunday afternoon at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

The Deacons and Terrapins had tied 1-1 through regulation and overtime, leaving the conference title to be decided by kicks from the penalty spot. Wake's Alisha Woodson and Maryland's Sade Ayinde each converted their team's first attempts, but Bledsoe stopped the next three Terrapin tries, and Katie Stengel and Bianca D'Agostino scored for the Deacons, to give Wake Forest the conference crown.

"(The players) really saw the whole thing through and finished the job over the weekend," said head coach Tony da Luz. "Our goal was to finish this tournament and win it. I'm just really proud of our kids."

Bledsoe was named the 2010 ACC Championship MVP for her performance, and Demon Deacons Jackie McSally, Marisa Park and Stengel also made the All-Tournament Team.

"I told the team that I would save them all today," said Bledsoe. "The first kicker went left, and I was really bummed because I was there and it went right through my hands. After that, I knew I could step up and save some and I got the next three."

Wake fell behind early on a fifth minute goal by Maryland's Ashley Grove, before Stengel tied the game in the 19th minute off of an assist by Bianca D'Agostino. The goal was Stengel's 15th of the year, setting a new Wake Forest record for goals in a season.

"I came in and just tried to be as strong of a player as I could this season," said Stengel. "If I get goals along the way then that's great."

"Katie puts a lot of work into her game," da Luz added. "Every day in training she is looking to improve. She had an unbelievable freshman year and really carried the team for quite awhile."

Wake is only the fourth different school to win an ACC women's soccer championship after North Carolina, Virginia and NC State, and is the first to earn shootout victories in both the semifinals and finals to claim the title. The Demon Deacons had taken down North Carolina 5-4 on penalties in the semifinals.

"I told the kids right before we went into (penalty kicks today) that we've done this already," said da Luz. "I think that they definitely benefitted from that experience, especially Aubrey (Bledsoe). Although it's pretty stressful, we were pretty confident that they would be able to do it again.

The Terrapins struck in the fourth minute as Ashley Grove buried a shot from the left side of the box off of assists from Lydia Hastings and Domenica Hodak.

Stengel equalized for the Deacons in the 18th minute, taking a long through ball out of the midfield from D'Agostino and lifting a shot over the charging Maryland keeper Balogun to tie the match at 1-1. The goal was Stengel's 15th of the year, setting a new Wake Forest single-season record.

The Deacs had a chance to take the lead just before the half. D'Agostino played a ball to Park who flicked a through pass that Kristen Meier steered towards goal but it was stopped by a sliding Balogun.

McSally almost gave the Deacons the lead with 17 minutes to play in regulation when she headed a free kick from Amanda Howell off of the cross bar. Logue's follow-up attempt from in close was saved by Balogun.

Neither team had any good opportunities as the second period wound down, sending the game to overtime.

Both teams had chances to get the game-winner in the second overtime period. Maryland had back-to-back corner kicks that they could not convert. Wake Forest had a good spell of possession near the Maryland box towards the end of the period, but shots by Marisa Park and Victoria Delbono were blocked, leaving the ACC championship to be decided by penalty kicks for the first time since 2004.