LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Senior Jackie Ciconte lamented all season about playing her last season with the Maryland field hockey team and how she'll miss her teammates.
She gave them all a lasting memory.
Ciconte scored the only goal of the game to give the top-seeded Terps the NCAA Division I national championship. Ciconte corralled a bouncing ball, dribbled around Duke goalkeeper Christy Morgan and hammered a backhand shot into the cage to give the Terps a 1-0 lead that would hold up for the game's last 61 minutes at the University of Louisville's Trager Field.
"It went to the left side of the goal, I popped it around the goalie, prayed and I hit it in," Ciconte said. "I just got lucky."
Senior midfielder Lauren Powley said Ciconte's 20th goal of the season, a career high, was more than just a lucky stab.
"Jackie's skill has improved so much, and she's worked so hard on it," Powley said. "She's so strong on the ball, and I just don't think it was luck. She had it the whole time."
The goal gave the Terps (23-2) their fourth national championship and first since 1999. Seniors Powley, Meredith Long and Emily Beach, who won their first championship, poured the team's water bucket over coach Missy Meharg minutes after receiving their trophy to celebrate Meharg's third title.
Meharg's team had gone to the previous two final fours, only to fall short of the championship game.
"When you are dominant in the top cluster for pretty much the history of the program," Meharg said, "you get a little frustrated because you know you're going to be there. But what separates you from being the best? It was the women on this team that really separated us this year."
Against No. 3 seed Duke (18-5), it was the aggressive defense the Terps employed that kept the fourth-best scoring team in the nation off the scoreboard for only the second time this season. The Terps also shut out Duke in Durham, N.C., on Oct. 8.
Beth Bozman's Blue Devils lost in the national championship game for the third straight year. She said this was the first time her team deserved to win the game, even though they were outshot, 10-5.
Probably the biggest missed opportunity came midway through the first half, when Duke senior forward Katie Grant received a pass while stationed at the left post and hit the outside of the cage, missing a wide-open net.
Maryland sophomore goalkeeper Kathryn Masson became the first goalie in NCAA history not to make a save in the title game.
Meharg said her team was never afraid to take on the expectation of being champions.
"Our goal has been to win the ACCs this year and win the national championship," Meharg said.
Duke 0 0 - 0
Maryland 1 0 - 1
Goal: M-Ciconte. Saves: D-Morgan 4; M-Masson 0. A: 1,007.