ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tenth-ranked and third-seeded Northwestern captured its first Big Ten field hockey tournament title in school history, taking down second-ranked and top-seeded Maryland 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Ocker Field.
By virtue of the tournament title, Northwestern (16-6) an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament which gets underway this week. The tournament field is being announced at 9 p.m. Central time Sunday on NCAA.com.
Maryland (18-3) entered the matchup on a 13-match winning streak. The Terrapins had not been defeated since Northwestern handed them a 3-2 loss Sept. 20 in Evanston. In fact, the only other team to beat Maryland this season entering Sunday's contest was top-ranked North Carolina.
Even though the Wildcats won the first meeting between the teams, Maryland held a 23-5 edge in shots in that contest. However, Sunday's matchup was a different story. In face, NU didn't allow a shot by the Terrapins until over 26 minutes had passed in the opening half.
Maryland held the early possession edge but Northwestern eventually settled in. The Wildcats earned the first penalty corner of the match for either team 24 minutes into the match and made the opportunity pay off.
Dominique Masters' initial shot was deflected and found the stick of Charlotte Martin who fed a pass to inserter Lisa McCarthy who was alone at the doorstep to put home her sixth goal of the season, giving Northwestern a 1-0 lead at 24:04.
The lead was short-lived, though, as the Wildcats were assessed a green card, forcing them to go a player down for two minutes. Maryland was able to earn its first corner of the match and Sarah Sprink scored at 26:35 to make it 1-1.
The teams would remain tied heading into halftime as Northwestern held a 6-2 advantage in shots and 3-1 edge in penalty corners.
The 'Cats used another penalty corner opportunity to take the lead for good five minutes into the second half. McCarthy inserted to Martin who stopped the feed and passed to Isabel Flens who ripped a shot by Brooke Cabrera to make it 2-1 at the 40:40 mark.
Even with the one-goal advantage, Northwestern continued to put the pressure on the Terrapins rather than sitting back. The Wildcats stellar defense frustrated the high-powered Maryland offense all day long.
NU denied every charge by the Terrapins and eventually posted a huge insurance goal at 62:56. Masters, who was Friday's hero with two goals in a 2-1 overtime win over Michigan, put home her third goal of the tournament to make it 3-1 in Northwestern's favor.
Maryland would earn three penalty corners down the stretch, but the `Cats and Big Ten tournament MVP Maddy Carpenter denied them each time. Carpenter made five saves in the victory. Masters was also named to the all-tournament team.
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