CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (theACC.com) – Maryland treated the Fetzer Field crowd to quite a balancing act Friday afternoon, and it spelled victory for the No. 1-seeded Terrapins in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
Feeding off opportunities on the run and in the open field, Alex Aust, Katie Schwarzmann, Brooke Griffin and Kelly McPartland all posted hat tricks as Maryland turned back fifth-seeded Virginia, 13-9. Aust and Griffin paced the Terps in scoring with five total points, while McPartland and Schwarzmann finished with four points apiece.
The top-ranked Terrapins (18-0), who last season became the first team to capture four straight ACC women’s lacrosse championships, will go for their fifth in a row in Sunday’s 5 p.m. championship game, where they will face the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between second-seeded North Carolina and third-seeded Boston College.
“We’ve taken this season, and we’ve put it into three segments,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. “We’re in segment two now, and our focus is on an ACC championship. That’s what we’re fighting for. What we’ve done in the past, we’ve learned from and we’ve grown as a team, but that’s behind us. We’re not spending time talking about the past or looking to the future. We’re in the here and now. We’re playing for this moment.”
Virginia (9-9) will await NCAA selections on May 5, when the Cavaliers expect to receive their 18th consecutive postseason bid under head coach Julie Myers.
“I am really proud of how far this team has come,” said Myers, whose team defeated seventh-ranked Duke in Thursday’s quarterfinal. “This season has been a bumpy one, but this week I think we came together off the field, and it showed up on the field. And I think we can push the girl even harder now, because they have that much more to give.”
Maryland built a three-goal lead twice in the first half, but the Cavaliers outscored the Terps 3-1 in the final 7:08 to close within 7-6 at the break.
McPartland led the fast-breaking Terrapins in the first half with her hat trick and one assist. Four-time All-ACC selection Schwarzmann added two goals, one on an assist from Aust and another when she scooped up a ground ball and raced a quarter of the field to slam a shot home.
Casey Bocklet led the Virginia counterattack with three points on a pair of goals and one assist. Courtney Swan added an assist and a goal, which came with 34 seconds remaining in the period and pulled the Cavaliers within one point at the half.
Maryland was 8-of-8 on first-half clear attempts, while Virginia went 5-of-7. Virginia led 9-5 on draw controls, while the Terrapins held a 6-4 edge on ground balls.
The Terps established breathing room at the outset of the second half, as goals by Aust and Griffin pushed the lead to 9-6 in the opening minutes. The Cavaliers closed within two goals on one occasion afterward, but could get no closer.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Myers said. “Clearly, we made a few too many mistakes in our transition game, and Maryland was able to capitalize.”
Bocklet’s three points led Virginia’s scoring, and Ashlee Warner scored a pair of goals for the Cavaliers.
The teams were even in draw controls at game’s end, and Maryland held a 14-9 edge on ground balls, several of which were turned into open-field scoring opportunities.
“We went in at halftime, kind of looked at each other, and took a deep breath,” Reese said. “We wanted to do a better job in the second half on draw controls. That was our main focus – ‘Just get it.’ “