In a battle between the winners of the last three NCAA titles, it was No. 1 Maryland to spoil the No. 8 Princeton field hockey team’s hopes of a repeating as national champion in a 3-2 comeback victory in the NCAA quarterfinals Sunday in College Park, Md.
Princeton (14-5) scored two go-ahead goals in the first half, but Maryland was there each time to respond and more importantly break up the tie in the second half to eliminate the Tigers from the postseason.
Both sides set an extremely aggressive and fast tempo through the first half with penetration inside the circle coming at a premium.
Princeton’s game plan paid dividends immediately, going up 1-0 at the 2-minute mark on a penalty corner.
After an Annabeth Donovan stop, Amanda Bird faked the initial shot and Teresa Benvenuti sent a quick dish to the left side to an unmarked Sydney Kirby. With a direct open lane, Kirby slammed in the go-ahead goal.
Maryland’s Anna Dessoye was there to equalize off a penalty corner three minutes later at 5:04.
With 11:41 left in the first Maddie Copeland, who earned her first career postseason start, came up with Princeton’s closest shot attempt since its opening goal. She received a hard pass and extended her stick to redirect it into the cage, but the momentum of the ball sent it just above the crossbar.
Over the first half Gersoff made two saves, both incredible individual attempts over a 20-second span with less than six to play, including a one-on-one effort where she went horizontal to knock the ball out of the cage.
As the first half ticked towards halftime, Allison Evans reestablished Princeton’s lead on a drive from the right side into the circle. With a pair of Terrapin defenders lunging at her, she sent in a backhanded shot to make it a 2-1 match with 33 seconds left in the period.
Maryland again answered to even the score quickly, scoring six seconds before the break to tie it 2-2.
The second half saw Maryland pounce the Tiger circle over the opening minutes; however Gersoff stopped both on target shots, including another one-on-one effort where she slid out to tackle the oncoming striker.
Gersoff had four saves in the match.
As UM’s offense began to pick up momentum, the Terrapins were able to take their first lead off Jill Witmer’s second goal of the afternoon in the 39th minute.
The goal would prove to be the game-winner, as Princeton’s ensuing chances in the circle would go wide and high.
Maryland closed out the match holding a 14-9 shot advantage, while both sides finished with four penalty corners apiece.