NORFOLK, Va. — A Tobacco Road field hockey final almost became a reality on Friday. Duke held up its end in an upset. North Carolina, however, fell in heartbreaking fashion.
The Blue Devils outlasted top-ranked Maryland 3-2 in the first semifinal at L.R. Hill Sports Complex. Emmie Le Marchand paced the attack with one goal and one assist, while goalkeeper Lauren Blazing and a stalwart Duke defense kept the Terrapins off the board for the final 41 minutes.
With the win, Duke plays Connecticut at 4:45 p.m. Sunday. The Blue Devils (17-6) are chasing the program’s first national title.
“One of the most important things in a period of pressure like that is you’re just trying to regain control,” Blazing said of the second half. “We were kind of just absorbing their pressure. Being a part of the defense and working with them, they kept the shots pretty easy – low-angle shots or shots from the top of the circle. I thought we came out of it well.”
North Carolina fell to No. 4 Connecticut 2-1 after a two overtimes and a penalty shootout. In the back-and-forth, best-of-five series, UConn made two of its first four shots, and when UNC missed its fourth the game was over.
“It was a game that was a little bit back-and-forth and, of course, grueling – two overtime periods are tough and to lose in a shootout is heartbreaking, but it’s part of the game,” said UNC coach Karen Shelton, who reach her 18th final four in 33 seasons with the program.
Friday’s meeting was the second of the season between the two teams, the first less than a month ago. UNC (18-6) won that meeting 2-1.