Tasch Backstops U-M to First Women's NCAA Team Title

KENT, Ohio -- Goals by freshman forward Adrienne Hortillosa (Chula Vista, Calif./Bonita Vista HS) and sophomore defender Kristi Gannon (Escondido, Calif./San Pasqual HS), plus the stellar play of senior goalkeeper Maureen Tasch (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS), gave the University of Michigan its first NCAA team championship in a women's sport as the Wolverines field hockey team posted a 2-0 win over top-ranked Maryland on Sunday (Nov. 18) in the NCAA championship game at Kent State's Dix Stadium.

With the win, seventh-ranked Michigan (18-5) becomes the second team from the Midwest to capture the NCAA title, joining 1986 champion Iowa. In addition, the Wolverines avenged a 2-1 loss to the Terrapins in the 1999 NCAA championship game.

The Wolverines' defense, which has held opponents to just six shots per game this season, survived a shelling by Maryland as the Terrapins unloaded 20 shots, including 11 in the second half. Eleven of the Terps' total shots made it on net, where Tasch was there to knock them away en route to her eighth shutout of the season, setting the U-M school record for shutouts in a single campaign.

Michigan was on the defensive for the majority of the first period as Maryland peppered the U-M defense with nine shots and had the Wolverines pinned in their own end for the bulk of the first 35 minutes. Michigan suffered a blow to its defense when sophomore Stephanie Johnson (Houston, Texas/The Kinkaid School) was taken out of the game after she was hit in the face on a Maryland penalty corner, but the Wolverines held on as Tasch made seven saves in the first 35 minutes to keep the Terrapins scoreless.

With time winding down in the first half and the Wolverines attempting a penalty corner, Hortillosa put U-M up 1-0, tipping in a pass from sophomore Kristi Gannon (Escondido, Calif./San Pasqual HS). Gannon received the ball from senior defender Catherine Foreman (Happy Valley, South Australia/Westminster School) and fed it across the circle to a wide-open Hortillosa, who tipped it into the empty cage.

The Wolverines took a 2-0 lead just under six minutes into the second half on its only penalty corner attempt of the period when Gannon unleashed a blast from the top of the circle, which caromed off Maryland keeper Ashley Hohnstine into the back of the cage. Foreman and senior midfielder Ali Balmer (Ephrata, Pa./Ephrata HS) were credited with assists.

Maryland had a chance to pull within one late in the second half when sophomore forward April Fronzoni (Larksville, Pa./Wyoming Valley West HS) was issued a yellow card at 11:33, giving the Terrapins a one-player advantage for over five minutes. Maryland took a number of its seven second-half penalty corners during that time, but each time the defense stepped up and cleared the ball.

Tasch, Gannon, Hortillosa, Johnson and Fronzoni were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team, joining Maryland's Dana Rizzo, Autumn Welsh, Colleen Barbieri and Caroline Walter, as well as Wake Forest's Kelly Doton and Heather Auginbaugh.


Team 1 2 F
Michigan 1 1 2
Maryland 0 0 0

Scoring, Time (Assist)
1st -- U-M, Adrienne Hortillosa, 2:13 (Kristi Gannon)
2nd -- U-M, Gannon, 29:30 (Catherine Forman, Ali Balmer)

Shots: Michigan 5-1--6, Maryland 9-11--20
Saves: Michigan 7-4--11 (Maureen Tasch), Maryland 2-0--0 (Ashley Hohnstine)
Defensive Saves: None
Penalty Corners: U-M 3-1--4, Maryland 3-7--10
Penalty Strokes: None


Michigan's NCAA championship is the first by a women's team sports in school history, and is the 51st national team title in U-M athletics history. The Wolverines' title is the first for Michigan since the men's gymnastics team won the 1999 crown.

Michigan's win over Maryland was its first-ever victory over the Terrapins. During its NCAA title run, U-M posted wins for the first time over North Carolina, Princeton and Maryland.

Each victory in the NCAA Tournament came against a team ranked at least as high as the Wolverines, who were tied for seventh in the last STX/NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll. U-M defeated No. 4 North Carolina, No. 7 Michigan State, No. 6 Princeton and No. 1 Maryland.

Maureen Tasch posted her eighth shutout of the season, setting a U-M single-season record for shutouts in a campaign.

Michigan remained perfect on Sundays this season, improving its record to 10-0.

Adrienne Hortillosa netted her team-high sixth game-winning goal of the season in the victory.


U-M Head Coach Marcia Pankratz
On the game ... "I'm very proud of our team. Maryland has such tremendous talent and they're a wonderful team, and to go out and play them for the national championship and be victorious has me thrilled. Our team effort included everybody, and that's how it's been all year. We don't have any superstars, we just have a team that plays hard and plays well together."

On Michigan's first women's national championship ... "I'm just happy to bring another one home for the Wolverines. Men's program, women's programs, revs, non-revs, it doesn't matter. We're just really proud to be a part of the University and they've given us so much tremendous support to help us be successful, and we're just happy we're able to bring home a championship."

On playing without Stephanie Johnson for the majority of the first half ... "We're very versatile and we play very much like a team, so when one of our defense and our corner-strikers goes out of the match, we were able to really adjust well. People covered each other and were able to play other positions when we needed them to, and we stayed calm."

Sophomore Defender Stephanie Johnson
On beating the No. 1 team ... "Having gone through the last month of ups and downs with our team, we came out this season thinking we should be the No. 1 team. We played like we were for a month at the beginning of the season, had the ups and downs in the middle, and learned what it took to be a No. 1 team at that point in time. The No. 1 team coming in today maybe hadn't had the adversity to relish the position we had been in, so we knew what sort of rare opportunity we had been presented with. We had a lot of momentum going in our direction in the last couple of weeks, and it's a great feeling to go out there and do that today."

Junior Forward Jessica Rose
On the game ... "The first half I thought we had things in control. They really came at us in the first five minutes and I think we got our jitters out, settled ourselves, got back in it and put a goal in the cage. The last 20 minutes of the game they really had us on our heels and were pressing hard. Maryland's such a great team, but Mo (Tasch) and Steph (Johnson) were great back there, and everybody stepped up. It was a team effort."

Senior Goalkeeper Maureen Tasch
On her shutout ... "At this level, so late in the season, I thought it wasn't going to happen anymore and I was done with those. They put an awful lot of pressure on and were very skilled, but we were relentless back there with the defenders tackling back."

Contact: Paul Thomas (734) 763-4423