CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The third-ranked and third-seeded Virginia field hockey team (18-2, 3-2 ACC) will take on top-ranked Maryland (19-0, 5-0) at noon Sunday in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game at the Turf Field. The game will be broadcast live on the league’s regional sports network.
The Cavaliers defeated fourth-seeded Duke 3-1 in the first round on Thursday before upsetting second-seeded North Carolina 1-0 in the semis Friday night to move onto the championship game. The Terps, meanwhile, earned a first-round bye as the top seed and held on to beat Wake Forest, 3-2, in the first semifinal on Friday.
Sunday will mark the sixth time Virginia has played in the championship game of the ACC Tournament, and the second with Maryland. The Cavaliers have never won the ACC championship, with an 0-5 record in title games. The last time UVa played for the league crown was in 2000, against Maryland, a 3-0 win for the Terrapins. Maryland also beat Virginia 1-0 in overtime of the 1998 Championship that was in Charlottesville.
Sophomore Paige Selenski, one of three All-ACC selections for the Cavaliers, has scored twice in the Championship, and leads the team with 24 goals this season. Tara Puffenberger has eight scores while Traci Ragukas has scored seven times, and Inga Stöckel boasts a team-best eight assists. Goalkeeper Kim Kastuk has a 0.72 goals against average with a .806 save percentage for the Orange and Blue.
Maryland, the defending NCAA and ACC Tournament champions, is the lone unbeaten team in the country at 19-0. The last time the Terps lost was Oct. 11, 2008, when Duke claimed a 3-2 win in College Park. Maryland swept the ACC awards this year, as Katie O’Donnell was selected as the Offensive Player of the Year; Emma Thomas as Defensive Player of the Year and Missy Meharg as Coach of the Year. Nicole Murraco leads the conference with 26 goals this season, while O’Donnell has 21 scores and 20 for Thomas. Goalkeeper Alicia Grater has a 0.91 goals against average and a .838 save percentage in the cage for the Terps.
Maryland leads the all-time series with Virginia 34-19-2. The Terrapins scored three unanswered goals to defeat the Cavaliers 3-1 back on Oct. 2 in College Park, one of UVa’s two losses this season. Paige Selenski tallied the lone goal for the Orange and Blue. The two teams also met in the semifinals of the 2008 ACC Championship, with the Terps earning a 3-2 win in overtime. The last Virginia victory over Maryland was Sept. 30, 2001, a 3-2 win that was decided in penalty strokes in College Park.
Maryland and Virginia have several ties between the two teams. UVa volunteer assistant Keli Smith played for the Terps from 1997-2000 and helped them to a national title in 1999. Smith, an Olympian for the United States, was a three-time All-American at Maryland. Smith is in her first season with the Cavaliers. Junior defender Shelly Edmonds’ older sister Kristina played at Maryland from 2003-06 and earned second-team All-America honors as a senior. Edmonds was a member of UMD’s back-to-back national championship teams in 2005 and 2006.
Virginia’s Paige Selenski, Michelle Vittese and Tara Puffenberger, along with Maryland’s Katie O’Donnell, Alexis Pappas and Brianna Davies, were all teammates over the summer, playing for the United States in the Junior World Cup in Boston. The U.S. earned an eighth-place finish in the tournament.