CARY — For the first time in the 25-year history of the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship, no team from the state of North Carolina will play in the championship game.
Second-seeded Maryland and fifth-seeded Virginia advanced to Sunday’s 1 p.m. final at WakeMed Soccer Park with victories in Friday’s semifinals.
The Terrapins (13-5-2) eliminated third-seeded Wake Forest 2-0, and the Cavaliers (15-4-1) ousted defending champion and top-seeded Florida State 4-2.
Both teams will be making their fourth appearance in the championship game, although Maryland has never won the title. UVa won in 2004.
This season the Terrapins beat the Cavaliers 3-1 at College Park, Md., but Virginia has beaten two teams in the tournament it lost to in the regular season while reeling off four consecutive victories over nationally ranked opponents.
“They’re a great team,” first-year Maryland coach Jonathan Morgan said of the Cavaliers. “They have a special player in Caroline Miller, who is good on the dribble and in combination. She’s a handful. We have to keep her in front of us.”
Miller, a senior forward and the ACC offensive player of the year, leads the Cavaliers with 15 goals, including one in the win over Florida State. The architect of the Cavaliers’ victory however was sophomore midfielder Morgan Brian, who had two goals and an assist.
“We’re lucky to have a player of Morgan’s talent,” Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. “She can see the field, and she can do so much more than score goals.”
Brian got a late start with the Cavaliers this season because she was one of eight ACC players on the U.S. team in the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan in September. Swanson coached that team to the gold medal.
“When we first got back from Japan, I was just trying to rejoin the team in the middle of the season,” Brian said. “My teammates have helped me come in and play better soccer with them.”
Maryland has also benefited from the return of one of its key players. Junior forward Hayley Brock, who scored the first goal against Wake Forest, sat out the previous two games after getting a red card for fighting in a game against Miami.