Terps oust Duke in ACC semis for 2nd straight year

It was only fitting that the intense back -and-forth ACC field hockey semifinal battle between third-seeded Duke and second-seeded Maryland went down to the wire.

With only 1:47 remaining in the match, Terrapin freshman midfielder Susie Rowe buried a shot from the top of the circle to secure a 4-3 Maryland (19-2) victory over the Blue Devils (14-4) Friday in College Park, Md. and earn a spot in Sunday's ACC finals.

In the championship game, Rowe, who won the tournament's MVP award, replicated her game-winning performance by breaking a 2-2 tie with 44 seconds remaining to shock top-seed and previously undefeated Wake Forest (19-1). The 3-2 loss was the Demon Deacons' first in the past 24 games.

With the four of the nation's top five teams-No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 2 Duke, No. 3 Maryland and No. 5 North Carolina-all competing this weekend for the ACC Championship, the fact that the games were so evenly matched came as no surprise.

"No one controlled the play," Duke head coach Beth Bozman said about the semifinal. "Maryland had a great shot at the end, and that's the difference in the game."

The teams traded goals throughout the first half. Less than nine minutes into the game, Maryland's Paula Infante and Sarah Scholl combined on a give-and-go near the circle, and Infante found the cage for an early 1-0 lead. The Blue Devils countered in the 18th minute with their own goal by forward Katie Grant.

Six minutes later, Duke goalie Christy Morgan deflected an Infante corner, but the Blue Devils were unable to clear the rebound before Maryland's Jackie Ciconte crashed the net to put the Terps ahead 2-1.

The score was knotted at two just 20 seconds later, however, when Grant took matters into her own hands and netted her second goal of the night with an unassisted strike.

After a second half assist, Grant finished the game with five points. It was the fifth contest this season that she reached at least that mark.

The assist brought Grant's career assist total to 60, which is just three fewer than the Duke all-time record of 63.

"I think this year, Katie just rose to a whole new level of play," Bozman said of her senior captain. "She clearly is one of the best, if not the best, type player in the country."

The Blue Devils took the lead for the first time with a goal 21:15 into the second period. Forward Nicole Dudek found the back of the net off a direct corner, with assists from Grant and Marian Dickinson.

But Maryland's Rowe knotted the score at three with less than seven minutes remaining for the game's third tie score. She finished the game with her winning shot several minutes later.

"We went ahead in the second half, and they mounted a really strong attack in the last six and a half minutes of the game," Bozman said. "There were no bad shots to make a difference in this game. I think both teams played really great games, and it was just a matter of they did one more good thing than we did and that was the win."

Although the Blue Devils lost to Maryland in the ACC semifinals for the second consecutive year, Bozman was still proud of her team.

"I think this is the best that-certainly since I've been here at Duke-this is the best that any Duke team has ever played," Bozman said. "It was a great, unbelievably high-skilled college game."

Bozman said she expects the Blue Devils to be the third seed when the NCAA announces its tournament field Tuesday. She said Wake Forest will likely be the top seed, followed by Maryland.

The Blue Devils have a week before the opening round of the NCAAs, which begins Nov. 12.

"We've been working on picking our game up and working a little bit harder and faster every game." Bozman said. "We'll be ready."


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