March 29, 2014

Maryland Holds Off BC, Ready for 'War' with UNC

by Megan Schneider | | Twitter

Taylor Cummings escapes the clutches of Boston College's defense. Cummings scored three goals Saturday in No. 1 Maryland's 10-9 victory over the No. 4 Eagles.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- After allowing five straight goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half and falling behind Boston College, Maryland rallied to keep its undefeated season alive. Freshman goalie Emily Kift, who relieved starter Abbey Clipp, made three game-changing saves and midfielder Erin Collins scored the go-ahead goal to lift the second-ranked Terps to a 10-9 victory over the fourth-ranked Eagles, who gave reigning NCAA champion North Carolina a similar scare last week.

"That was awesome," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. "We weren't making many saves to start the second half, so we decided to make a switch and put Emily in there, and she had some huge stops that gave us the momentum to come up with a turnover or two."

Despite the rain and players leaving with injuries due to a slippery field, the Terps regained their composure in the final 19:39 of the game with Kift as the voice of the defense. With a different look and a different pace, Reese trusted Kift's abilities in goal to respond faster and more aggressively to the Eagles' charge.

"I was a little nervous, but I was confident in my defense," Kift said. "My teammates gave me some words of encouragement, but I was just excited to get the opportunity to play in a game like this."

This game was a premier ACC matchup, as Boston College has made its presence known this season. The Eagles had hoped to hand Maryland irs first loss of the season, but fell short. The Terps (13-0, 4-0 ACC) have now won 32 straight regular season games (including the 2013 ACC tournament).

Boston College fell 14-13 to No. 1 North Carolina last weekend. The Eagles (8-3, 1-3) lost to No. 3 Syracuse earlier in the season.

"We're close, but close doesn't count," Boston College coach Acacia Walker said. "I wish we came out stronger. You can't fall back against Maryland, no matter how hard you fight back. They're just too good. It builds their confidence. Maryland is a dangerous team when they're confident. We just needed to come out with more."

The game started with a quick 4-0 lead for the Terps with two goals by Halle Majorana and one apiece by Beth Glaros and Erin Collins.

Maryland continued to dominate the first half with a 6-3 lead, despite a lack of draw controls. But the Terps were then blindsided by a five-goal Boston College comeback, including three goals by sophomore Sarah Mannelly. Maryland didn't touch the ball once during that timeframe.

"Defensively, we've been working on one opportunity and when the ball's on the ground, just getting it out," Terps defender Alice Mercer said. "When they came back with those goals, it's because we were giving them second and third opportunities."

Joining Mannelly in the offensive barrage, Boston College juniors Mikaela Rix and Covie Stanwick together scored three goals to give the Eagles an 8-6 lead.

"There's no secret," Walker said. "You just can't let Maryland have the ball. You just have to create opportunities for our offense by having possession for a while and finding the matchups and the mismatches and then attacking where we're strong."

However, with a crucial goalie substitution taking out Clipp, the redshirt junior, and giving Kift a chance to change the game, Maryland responded quickly with three goals of its own – two by Taylor Cummings and one by Glaros.

"The first 12 minutes of the second half, we didn't touch the ball and then, there was a really big lull in the middle of the second half," said Cummings, who scored three goals. "Emily came in as a freshman with a bunch of confidence and made three big saves that we really needed. She took the pressure and ran with it."

Stanwick responded with her second goal 21 seconds later to tie the game at 9 with about 15 minutes remaining. Off of the ensuing draw control, the Eagles retained possession, slowing the ball down. Appearing confident in their play, they didn't look to force the shot, hoping to hold out for the game-winning goal.

The Terps recovered possession after a long defensive stance, driving the ball up the field, where Collins netted her second goal of the game off a feed from Kelly McPartland to give the Terps a 10-9 lead.

"We just work on being disciplined and staying with our original game plan and not creeping out on the ball," Mercer said. "Just staying within our game plan until they mess up, and we take the opportunity from there."

With 4:19 remaining, the Eagles amped up the pressure, double-teaming left and right and even pulling the goalie out for extra help. Numerous fouls were called on Boston College, including two yellow cards on Rix and Stephanie Sabatini, but the Terps successfully played keepaway, securing the win.

Maryland next faces No. 1 North Carolina in a rematch of their epic 2013 NCAA championship game, won by the Tar Heels in triple overtime, and a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown. Both teams are undefeated.

"To say UNC is a rivalry game is really understated," Cummings said. "It's going to be a war."

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