Rachel Hiskins swept in a penalty corner pass with 13: 29 left in the second overtime as top-ranked Maryland beat No. 3 Iowa, 2-1, in yesterday's NCAA tournament semifinals at Parsons Field on the Northeastern University campus just outside Boston.
The winning goal came on Maryland's 13th corner of the game. Hiskins, a junior from Victoria, Australia, initiated the play by passing out to the top of the circle where Autumn Welsh stopped the ball, leaving it for Caroline Walter. Hiskins then charged to the left post, taking a quick throw from Walter for the game-winner.
"All I had to do was sweep it in," Hiskins said.
"She says that but, it's not that easy," said Maryland coach Missy Meharg. "There's not much time and not much space to squeeze it between the cage and the goalie."
Maryland, 23-1 and winners of 21 straight games, will face No. 4 Michigan in the tournament final at 1: 30 p.m. tomorrow. Making its first-ever postseason appearance, Michigan beat previously undefeated Connecticut in the other semifinal, 4-3. Maryland is making its fourth trip to the national title game; the Terps won NCAA titles in 1987 and 1993.
Note to Michigan: Do not take the Terrapins into overtime. In its past seven games, Maryland has gone to overtime in four of them, prevailing each time. This includes the Atlantic Coast Conference title game against Wake Forest and its NCAA second-round matchup against Old Dominion. In fact, the Terps have won their past eight games that have gone to extra time.
Michigan knows firsthand of Maryland's overtime prowess. The two teams met at a neutral site in St. Louis in 1998, and the Terps won, 2-1, in double overtime.
Those streaks and Maryland's stay in unseasonably warm and sunny Boston would have ended if not for goalie Ashley Hohnstine. The sophomore from Oak Hill, Va., made two saves. Her first alone was enough to save the Terps.
Just over a minute into the first overtime, with each side pared to seven players, Iowa's Tiffany Fodera was open and ready to end the game. Her drive was on target. So was Hohnstine's dive.
"I saw that there was an open girl at the top-right corner, and I knew that was a shot opportunity," said Hohnstine, who leads the nation in goals-against average. "I just dove and it hit me square in the chest."
Iowa (19-3), which had shown little offense in regulation beyond a counter-attack strike by leading scorer Lesley Irvine, had more chances -- including three of its four penalty corners -- in the first overtime. It never had a better chance than Fodera's, though.
"We did a good job of limiting a very explosive offense," Iowa coach Beth Beglin said. " That first shot was in the cage."
Maryland controlled the first half with its precision passing game. The Terps took advantage when junior Keli Smith made like Emmitt Smith, trapping the ball, spinning around a defender and setting up her Pennsylvania running mate, freshman Carissa Messimer, in the left quarter of the circle. Messimer drove the ball in to the cage for a 1-0 lead with 7: 23 left before half.
Maryland pressured for a second goal, with its defenders creeping up field. The result was a pair of one-on-one rushes by Iowa's Irvine. Hohnstine came out and challenged the first one, causing Irvine to lose possession.
Not so the second time, as Irvine scored the tying goal with 2: 45 to play. That was it for the scoring until overtime, when Hohnstine's instincts and Hiskins' timing took over.
"I'm really pleased with this group," Meharg said. "They find a way to win with set pieces."
Setting up one final chance for Maryland to save its best for last.
Iowa 0 1 0 0 -- 1
Maryland 1 0 0 1 -- 2
Scoring: Maryland, Messimer (Smith); Hiskins (Walter). Iowa, Irvine (unassisted). Shots: Maryland 15, Iowa 3. Saves: Maryland, Hohnstine 2; Iowa, Druley 9. Penalty corners: Maryland 13, Iowa 4.