UNC women again fall to Terps in final
Homefield advantage didn’t help North Carolina stop Maryland’s domination of the ACC Tournament.
The Terrapins won their fifth straight title with a 12-8 victory over the Tar Heels at Fetzer Field Sunday. It was the fourth year in a row that Maryland beat UNC in the final, and each has been decided by at least four goals.
The third-ranked Tar Heels actually led 3-2 on a free position shot by Kara Cannizzaro with 10:38 left in the first half, but the top-ranked Terrapins went on a 10-1 run over the next 26 minutes.
UNC has been successful at clearing the ball 87.6 percent of the time this season, but the Tar Heels were 3-of-9 on clears and committed 14 turnovers in the second half when Maryland (19-0) took control.
“It wasn’t lack of offense on our part, it was a lack of having the ball,” UNC coach Jenny Levy said. “We were losing draws, and Maryland gains their momentum and they break games open in unscrambled situations.”
The Terrapins played their closest game of the season three weeks ago against UNC, winning 14-13 at home. But they pulled away easily on Sunday, leading 12-4 with 13 minutes left before the Tar Heels (14-3) scored the final four goals.
“What a night for us,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. “I'm just really proud of these girls, proud of how hard they worked."
The Terrapins returned all four starters from last season, but Reese said this was the best game her team has played defensively.
“We’ve been working all year on forcing players wide so they can take the low-angle shot and we did a really good job executing that today,” said Terrapins goalie Kasey Howard, who made nine saves. “And we communicated awesomely — I think that was the main thing.”
On offense, reigning player of the year Katie Schwarzmann (221 career goals) didn’t score, but she tied a championship-game record with four assists as unheralded teammates Brooke Griffin, Taylor Cummings and Beth Glaros recorded hat tricks.
“Katie being the player she is, draws a lot of double (teams),” Reese said. “But that opens up your other players, and we have seen them have success because of it.”
Abbey Friend scored four goals for the Tar Heels, including three in a span of 2:46 late in the game.
UNC fell to 1-7 in the ACC finals, with its one title coming in 2002.
While Maryland is sure to be the No. 1 national seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament — it's the only undefeated team and has four wins against top 5 opponents — the Tar Heels will find out their seed when the bracket is announced next Sunday at 9 p.m.