LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The fourth-ranked Maryland field hockey team (19-4) came back from a two-goal deficit with less than four minutes remaining in regulation to top No. 1 North Carolina, 3-2, in overtime for its eighth national title and fifth in seven years.
Freshman Katie Gerzabek scored the first Terrapin goal in the 67th minute, senior Jemma Buckley ripped in the equalizer with no time on the clock in regulation, and sophomore Jill Witmer netted the game-winner in the 81st minute for the Terps’ fifth NCAA crown in seven years (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011).
Since the NCAA began seeding the top four teams in the Tournament in 2002, the Terps are the first unseeded team to win a title. They beat the top three teams (Syracuse, Old Dominion, North Carolina) in order, en route to their repeat crown.
“Can’t say enough what an amazing team North Carolina (23-2) is and they have been all year,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “They were so far above us in the first half and at halftime, we just spoke about competing and playing with intangibles. We couldn’t be more proud of the Maryland team.”
The Tar Heels took a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute when Kelsey Kolojejchick found Elizabeth Stephens by the post for the deflection. They would take that one-goal lead into the break.
North Carolina added its second goal with 7:57 left in the game when Kolojejchick brought it up and again found Stephens around the cage for the tip-in.
Meharg pulled goalkeeper Melissa Vassalotti with 4:28 left in the game and the Terps down by two. 42 seconds later, Gerzabek tipped in a long pass from the corner by junior Harriet Tibble to cut the Heels’ lead to 2-1.
With 17 seconds to play, the Terrapins were awarded their third penalty corner of the game. Janessa Pope inserted on the play, Tibble stopped, and Buckley drilled in the equalizer with no time left on the clock to send the game to overtime for the second straight year.
In the 81st minute, Witmer checked in after a quick break with a fresh pair of legs. She instantly took the ball, streaked down the sideline and crossed across to the other side of the circle. She wound up and took a hard shot that flew into the net behind North Carolina goalkeeper Sassi Ammer.
Vassalotti tied her career-high eight saves in the win and Ammer had one. North Carolina outshot the Terps, 13-6, and had six to corners to Maryland’s five.
Jemma Buckley, Megan Frazer, Harriet Tibble and Jill Witmer were all named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.
This marked the Terps’ 11th appearance in the NCAA Finals and fifth time Maryland and North Carolina had met in the NCAA title game, including the last three straight years.