LU field hockey team advances to NCAA Championship

Liberty University’s Charlotte Vaanhold scored the game-winning goal in double overtime, giving No. 9 Liberty a 3-2 victory Friday over No. 5 Maryland on Friday in the NCAA Field Hockey Championship Final Four at Michigan’s Phyllis Ocker Field Hockey Field. Liberty advances to Sunday’s national championship game, where it will face No. 7 Northwestern (17-5), who edged No. 12 Harvard 2-1 in overtime in Friday’s second national semifinal. 

Vaanhold’s goal, her second of the day and ninth of the season, came on a feed from Jill Bolton at the 78:33 mark. Vaanhold lifted a forehand shot over Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost and into the top of the goal for the game winner.

Liberty improves to 20-2 on the season and will head to its first national championship game in school history at the Division I level. The Lady Flames extend their winning streak to 17 games. Maryland’s season ends at 15-7. Liberty’s victory over the Terrapins was its second straight top-five win.

The National Championship will be played at 2 p.m. Sunday and broadcast on ESPNU. 

Scoring Summary

34’ – LIBERTY – Jill Bolton (Maddie Hosler)

45’ – LIBERTY – Charlotte Vaanhold (unassisted)

45’ – MARYLAND – Bibi Donraadt (unassisted)

56’ – MARYLAND – Hope Rose | Penalty Stroke

79’ – Charlotte Vaanhold (Jill Bolton)

Goalkeepers

W: Azul Iritxity Irigoyen 20-2, nine saves 

L: Noelle Frost 15-7, seven saves

Turning Point

After Maryland committed a foul inside the Liberty circle, Liberty junior defender Bethany Dykema sent an outlet pass to Reagan Underwood. Underwood dribbled up the right shot and found an open Jill Bolton in the middle of the field near the circle.

With a two-on-one advantage, Bolton found Charlotte Vaanhold in the left side of the circle. Vaanhold one-timed a shot over Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost into the top of the cage in the 79th minute for the golden goal and the 3-2 win..  Vaanhold has scored the game-clinching goal in each of the last two games, scoring the winner in a shootout at No. 1 Rutgers last Sunday as well.

Key Stats & Notes

• The game was even at 0-0 after the first half despite a combined 17 shots (11-6 Maryland advantage) and eight penalty corners (5-3 Liberty edge) between the two squads.

• Liberty finally broke through at the 33:43, as Maddie Hosler found an open Jill Bolton on a breakaway opportunity. Bolton scored her 19th goal of the season to give Liberty the 1-0 lead.

• Late in the third quarter, Vaanhold struck for her first goal of the game. Following a Daniella Rhodes shot and ensuing save, Vaanhold batted the rebound out of the air and into the left side of the goal for a 2-0 advantage at the 44:06 mark.

• The Terrapins responded with their first goal of the day 40 seconds later (44:46), as Bibi Donraadt scored with 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Donraadt’s 13th goal of the season trimmed the Lady Flames lead to 2-1.

• Maryland tied the game at 2-2 on a penalty stroke from Hope Rose at the 55:06 mark.

• Liberty and Maryland both earned 10 penalty corners. The Terrapins held a 31-16 advantage in total shots. Both teams tallied 11 shots on goal.

• Bolton’s third quarter goal was her team-leading 19th of the season and 61st of her storied career. Vaanhold has a team-best five goals in five postseason games this fall.

• Liberty did not play any overtime games in the regular season and has gone to double overtime and a shootout in Elite Eight and Final Four.

• The Lady Flames improve to 4-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, including a 3-0 mark this season.

• Liberty’s 20 victories this season extends a school record during this historic season. The previous record was 17 wins, set by the 2013 squad.

Liberty bolsters its record to 10-2 against top-25 competition this season and has won nine

• The win was Liberty’s first ever over Maryland and evens the all-time series at 1-1.

• This was the Lady Flames’ third straight win by one goal.