Terps facing Wake again tonight in quest of 4th title

Maryland seeking second NCAA crown in 3 years

College Field Hockey

November 16, 2001|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

It is kind of fitting that Maryland's unsung field hockey team will be shooting for its second national championship in three years this weekend far from the bright lights of the big cities.

Kent State University in Ohio fits right in with the low-key personality of the 19-3 Terrapins.

There are no superstars or permanent captains on this team, although it is ranked No. 1 by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association and seeded second in the NCAA tournament.

But here the Terps are, in the final four for the third straight year and the sixth time in school history, looking for Maryland's fourth national title. Maryland will meet third-seeded Wake Forest (15-4) in a national semifinal at 7 tonight.

Maryland has won eight straight games, including a 3-2 victory over Wake Forest in this year's ACC tournament championship game. The Deacons, 0-2 this season against Maryland, are 2-12 all time.

"We have to pass first and not dribble," said Maryland coach Missy Meharg, whose teams over 14 seasons have 226 victories, best ever for the Terps. "We need to dive into the [scoring] circle for shots in order to win this game."

The Maryland game follows a 4:30 p.m. semifinal between two Cinderella, unseeded teams, Princeton (17-2) and Michigan (17-5). Tonight's winners will decide the title at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Princeton upset top-seeded Old Dominion, 2-1, in the second round, and Michigan ousted fourth-seeded North Carolina, 5-2, in the first round.

Fourteen of the 20 Maryland women who made the bus trip to Kent yesterday have scored this season, but the top goal-scorer, freshman forward Colleen Barbieri, has 15 in 22 games. Barbieri also has six assists for a total of 36 points, tying junior forward/midfielder Carissa Messimer (13 goals, 10 assists) for the team points lead.

Senior forward Dina Rizzo is right behind the two leaders with 14 goals and six assists for 34 points.

The heart and soul of the team is its defense, led by senior goalie Ashley Hohnstine, who has 11 shutouts. Her most recent shutout came in the second round of the NCAA tournament last weekend against Syracuse.

Hohnstine and teammates shut out the Orange, 6-0, advancing Maryland to Kent. The other major defensive star is All-America back Autumn Welsh. Senior midfielder Rachel Hiskins has gained All-America status for her all-around play.

The Terps outscored Fairfield, 7-1, to reach the second round, where senior forward Caroline Walter put up a hat trick to give her five goals in the two NCAA tournament games. Messimer has one goal and seven assists in the two tournament games, with the seven assists tying the all-time record for the entire NCAA tournament.

In all, Meharg said she loves the newfound energy and excitement for Maryland sports, with the school's football and basketball teams leading the way for the other sports.

"It's so easy to recruit here now," she said. "Maryland is a great school, and we've come a long way since the Len Bias days," referring to the former basketball star's cocaine-induced death that rocked the school.

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