CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia field hockey team (20-3) advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the first time since 1998 with a 3-2 overtime win against Michigan State (18-4) Sunday at the University Hall Turf Field. Sophomore Paige Selenski scored the game-winner 1:52 into the overtime session.
"Every day we build to take another step every season," Virginia head coach Michele Madison said. "It means a lot to play in the final four; it's what we had our sights set on and I know we all feel like we accomplished something with this win today."
Virginia moves on to play North Carolina, which defeated Wake Forest 4-1 Sunday to advance to the semifinals. The Cavaliers and Tar Heels will meet for the third time this season at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Wake Forest's Kentner Stadium. Maryland and Princeton will play the first game at 2 p.m. in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Virginia's 20th win is the most in a season in program history.
The Cavaliers will be making their third overall appearance in the NCAA semifinals. The first was in 1997. It will also be the third trip for Madison, who ironically took Michigan State to the semifinals in 2002 and 2004.
"I couldn't be more proud of my team and how they stuck it out," Madison said. "In the first half, we played fabulous hockey. We stuck to the game plan and then we got a little nervous in the second half. The pressure built and I give a lot of credit to Michigan State."
For the game, Virginia outshot the Spartans 22-15. Both teams took eight penalty corners.
Selenski gave UVa a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute, beating Michigan State keeper Elissa Unger on an assist from Michelle Vittese.
The Spartans were able to answer 11 minutes later when Chantae Miller tipped in a cross from Manouk Vernij to tie the game.
The Cavaliers went up again five minutes later, when senior Traci Ragukas tipped in a cross from Selenski that gave Virginia a 2-1 advantage at halftime.
UVa outshot Michigan State 14-7 in the first half.
The Spartans, though, came out strong in the second half. Jantine Steinmetz tied the game for a second time just 4:17 into the second stanza. She finished off a long drive and fired a shot from the right side that got past Virginia's Kim Kastuk.
"I had full confidence we could score again and there was plenty of time to do it," Madison said.
The two teams played the next 30 minutes to a scoreless tie, as the contest headed into overtime.
It didn't take long for the Cavaliers to take control; Michigan State's Manouk Vernij was issued a yellow card in the 67th minute giving Virginia an extra-player advantage.
Selenski notched the game-winner from the top of the circle and put the ball straight down the middle. Vittese, who was standing in front of the goalie, jumped to avoid the ball hitting her feet as Unger was unable to regain position.
"We knew they were down a player, so we just kept telling them to find the open player," Madison said. "Michelle was down there for what seemed like an hour. Floor (Vogels) had the ball down there in the corner and she was able to find the open player and make something happen."
Kastuk finished with seven saves in the cage for the Orange and Blue while Unger had 11 stops for MSU.
Tickets for the 2009 NCAA Field Hockey Championship are available by calling the Wake Forest ticket office at 1-888-758-SEAC or visiting wakeforestsports.com.
Each ticket book includes one ticket for admission to both semifinal games played on the Nov. 20th and one ticket to the championship game played on Nov. 22nd. Prices are as follows: all-session adult - $15.00; all-session student - $8.00.