DiGiacomo engineers Pioneer comeback with hat trick

[DENVER-MARYLAND] Denver came back from 2-0 in the second half on three goals from junior Nicholette DiGiacomo to upset Maryland, 3-2, and book a spot in the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time. A 28-yard strike in overtime capped off DiGiacomo’s first hat trick.

“It’s always tough when you give up the first one,” Denver coach Jeff Hooker said. “They started a little bit better than we did, and we didn’t start how we wanted to. At halftime, I thought the girls were saying the right things, doing the right things and their body language was great. I tweaked the formation a little bit and we ended up getting more of the ball. We’ve been down two goals before and they never panicked, we kept trying to play.”

Hayley Brock scored her 13th goal of the season in the fourth minute, and Becky Kaplan used some nifty footwork to score her second goal for the Terrapins in the 60th minute.

But the Pioneers made it 2-1 in the 68th minute on a DiGiacomo header off a free kick from Sam Harder.

DiGiacomo evened the score with 41 seconds left after Kalie Vaughn beat her defender to the end line and was wrapped up in the area to force the penalty.

“She’s a big-time player, and she does well in big games,” Hooker said of DiGiacomo’s performance. “She wasn’t going to give up, and she did a great job of organizing everyone and making them feel comfortable around her. They were giving the ball to her and letting her run things, and she did a great job spreading it around.”
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