Liberty midfielder/forward Kelsey Hetzel and forward Charlotte Vaanhold created a 2-on-1 opportunity with a little over 1:30 left in double overtime. Hetzel passed the ball to Vaanhold who hit the ball over a diving Noelle Frost, for her second goal of the game to propel No. 9 Liberty to a 3-2 double overtime win.
With the golden goal, Liberty earned its first opportunity to play in a title match, while Maryland was forced to wait another year to end its decade-long championship game drought.
The Terps mounted a valiant comeback to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime. But similarly to the Terps Elite Eight match, the first half featured a defensive battle with each goalie making spectacular plays keeping the game scoreless.
“What a battle,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “I applaud my team for taking 31 shots and coming back from 2-0.”
The Terps had a good opportunity in the second quarter with midfielder Emma DeBerdine sending a pass to forward Hope Rose who pushed the shot wide.
Liberty also had some good scoring opportunities, but Frost and her defense helped stem a powerful Flames attack for the majority of regulation.
Frost’s performance was encapsulated by an impressive save in the second quarter. A Flames player received a pass into the circle on a 1-on-1 opportunity, but Frost came off her line and poked the ball away with her stick to preserve the scoreless tie.
Frost finished the game with seven saves.
Early in the third quarter Liberty ended a scoreless tie. The Flames leading goal scorer Jill Bolton received a pass up the field on a breakaway opportunity. Defender Rayne Wright could not catch Bolton as she sent the ball past Frost into the right corner of the net to take a 1-0 lead.
The Terps kept creating opportunities all game but could not find the back of the net. The team finished with 31 shots, their most all season.
“We put ourselves into great positions, but the final decision making just wasn’t there today,” Donraadt said.
Late in the third quarter, the Terps earned a much needed penalty corner, but the Flames blocked defender Riley Donnelly’s shot.
Immediately after the failed penalty corner, the Flames began a counter-attack. Frost saved Bolton’s shot but the ball ricocheted off Frost’s pads and Vaanhold punched it in to double their lead.
Seconds later, the Terps responded and started their comeback effort. DeBerdine deflected the ball upwards and midfielder Bibi Donraadt, the team’s leading goal scorer hit the ball while it was in the air into the net to shrink the team’s deficit to one as they entered the fourth quarter.
The Terps kept putting pressure on Liberty’s defense driving the ball into the circle a few times earning two penalty corners. The Terps withstood two Liberty penalty corners with seven minutes left.
The Terps earned a penalty corner of their own with under five minutes left. Liberty goalie Azul Iritxity Irigoyen saved the shot and a Liberty player blocked access to the ball, awarding the Terps a penalty stroke. The Terps were finally presented with a strong opportunity.
Rose was given the opportunity to find an equalizer and stepped up to the spot. Rose sent the shot to the left side of the cage to tie the game at 2-2.
“She’s going to score that,” Meharg said. “That’s what she does.”
In overtime the Terps earned two green cards hampering their ability to score, only taking two shots during overtime setting up Liberty’s game winning goal to continue their dream season.