KENT, Ohio Some of the first words to exit Maryland field hockey coach Missy Mehorg”s mouth at yesterday”s press conference were, “Their goalie was outstanding.”
Michigan goalie Maureen Tasch stopped 11 shots in Michigan”s 2-0 victory over Maryland to help Michigan field hockey win its first national championship in school history. By shutting out the Terrapins, Tasch set a new Michigan record for shutouts in a season with eight.
“The game comes down to executing in the clutch and our goaltender did,” Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said.
With just 11:35 remaining in the second half, Michigan forward April Fronzoni was given a yellow card and was kicked off the field for at least five minutes. During this period, the Wolverines played one person short and Maryland increased its pressure. But Tasch and the Wolverines remained composed and denied the Terrapins on several corner opportunities.
Tasch”s shutout marked just the fifth time that there has been a shutout in the history of the NCAA Tournament and the first since North Carolina shut out Princeton in the 1996 championship game.
“The last couple of weeks we”ve made accomplishments little by little and I”ve kept saying that nothing could be better,” Tasch said. ” I mean, obviously, nothing could be better then this.”
The defensive unit, led by Tasch, was not facing a passive offense rather, they were up against the nation”s top-ranked offense, averaged 4.6 goals per game. Heading into the semifinals, Maryland had scored 13 goals versus Fairfield and Syracuse. The Terrapins” offensive tenacity was evident in their 3-2 victory over Wake Forest, one of the top defensive teams in the nation, in the national semifinals.
Maryland continued its aggressive play in the finals against the Wolverines. The Terrapins out-cornered the Wolverines 10-4 and controlled the tempo for the majority of the game, but because of Michigan”s stellar defensive play and intensity, Maryland couldn”t score.
“The last twenty minutes they really had us on our heels,” forward Jessica Rose said. “They were pressing hard and (Tasch) and Stephanie (Johnson) were great back there. Everyone stepped up.”
“I think we play hard and well together, and our corner defense was just amazing today,” Pankratz said.
In corner defense the Wolverines were able to break up several scoring chances with exceptional plays by Rose. When the ball successfully passed through Michigan”s stingy defense, Tasch was always in position to make the sprawling save to keep the Terrapins scoreless and frustrated.
“I thought at this level, so late in the season, (shutouts) weren”t going to happen anymore,” Tasch said. “I thought I was done with those, but this was the ideal situation.”
Close but no cigar
For the first time in school history, a Michigan women”s team has won a national championship. Though field hockey was the first to do it, many other women”s teams have come close over the past six years.
1995 swimming & diving, second: The Wolverines kept it close to the very end, as the final relay decided the national championship. Stanford won the relay and beat Michigan by 19 points.
1995 gymnastics, Tied-second: With four All-Americans, the Wolverines had their highest finish ever as they tied Alabama with 196.425 points.
1999 gymnastics, second: A first-place finish in the uneven bars was not enough for the Wolverines, who finished .300 points behind champion Georgia.
1999 field hockey, second: After winning seven straight, including two games over the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in nation, Michigan fell one goal short to Maryland.
2001 rowing, second: Even though Michigan won the individual national championship, it could not keep its lead from the first day of the three day tournament and was five points back of Washington when the tournament was over.