Terps work OT to reach final

Goalie Restivo makes 2 penalty-stroke saves

Maryland 2 Connecticut 1

College field hockey

November 18, 2006|By Geremy Bass | Geremy Bass,Special to the Sun

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Silence surrounded Kentner Stadium last night after regulation time and two overtime periods ended with Maryland and Connecticut tied at 1.

But Terps backup goaltender Christina Restivo broke the quiet with two lunging saves with her blocker pad and propelled the No. 2-seeded Terps to a victory on penalty strokes in an NCAA semifinal game.

The Terps (22-2) advance to the NCAA championship game tomorrow against top-seeded Wake Forest, which beat Duke, 5-4, in overtime, in the other semifinal.

After the game, the Terrapin faithful remained standing, and a rousing chant of "Steevo" echoed off the brick walls surrounding the turf field.

"After the second goal went in, I just thought to myself, `Wow, that was a great stroke,'" Restivo said. "After that, I told myself to get my composure and just focus. Worst-case scenario, I miss it, but I know my team is behind me."

Terps coach Missy Meharg said she's never worked with a penalty stroke specialist like Restivo before, but is thankful to have a player who has handled her role with "unbelievable maturity and works on it every single day."

Neither team had been faced with an overtime penalty-stroke scenario all season, but Restivo's prowess in net proved the difference in a game that was nearly won by each team on several occasions in overtime.

Seventh-seeded Connecticut (21-4) took the lead early as the Terps continued their troubling trend of starting the game slowly. Huskies sophomore back Jennifer Kleinhans converted on a penalty corner after just 3:39 had been played. The Terps struggled to mount quality offensive opportunities in the first half before freshman midfielder Ameliet Rischen scored with three minutes left.

Terps senior captain Paula Infante worked past two Connecticut defenders and played the ball to Rischen, who blasted a shot on the ground from the top of the arc that zipped past outstretched goaltender Andrea Mainiero.

Each team played a defensive-minded second half, seemingly afraid to give up the go-ahead goal.

And after two overtime periods, when the Terps generated 14 of their 22 shots and came within inches of scoring on numerous occasions, the stage was set for a dramatic finish.

Each team converted its first two attempts in the five-round stroke-off. Restivo then stopped UConn's Meagan Hoffmann, and Ellen Ott scored for Maryland for a 3-2 lead. Restivo thwarted Kristen Galuski, and the Terps' next shooter, midfielder Berber Rischen, Ameliet's older sister, pushed the ball into the left corner of the net past Mainiero, sending the Terps into a frenzy.

"Pretty much the whole second half and the overtimes, we were really persistent and willing to do whatever it takes," Meharg said. "We were very prepared for UConn to be a top-level team. When you get into a battle like that, it's a severe test of your will. But we've worked with Christina on that very scenario, and, thankfully, she's very good at what she does."

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