Field Hockey and Volleyball split with Syracuse Friday night

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Terrapin field hockey team maintained their perfect record taking down the fourth ranked Syracuse Orange while volleyball fell to 2-5 in ACC play dropping a straight set loss to Syracuse.

Syracuse sent two teams to College Park Friday night. One will go home with a win the other with a loss. Regular readers know I generally like to finish my recaps with a win so I open with a summary of the volleyball match in that the Terps dropped in straight sets. The first set was highly competitive with Maryland rallying from deficits of 10-14 and 14-17 to eventually make the set a back and forth affair. After tying the set at 20, 21, 22, and 23, the Terps fought their way to set points leading 24-23 and 25-24. In both cases they failed to put the Orange away and found themselves playing from behind before eventually dropping the set 28-30.

After charging out to an 8-4 lead to open the second set, Maryland gradually let Syracuse back in as the Orange pulled even at eleven. Trailing 14-13, Syracuse ran off six straight to appear to take full control of the set. The Terps didn't quit answering with a four point run to close to 18-19. From this point, it was all Syracuse as they ran off six of the next seven points to take the set by a comfortable 25-19 final.

I arrived in time to see the third set and the Terps again got off to a quick start opening leads of 6-2 and 11-5 before allowing another Orange run of six straight that evened the score at eleven. Once again, Maryland appeared to regain their footing and recaptured the lead eventually looking to have taken control of the set at 22-18. Leading 24-22, Maryland had two chances to close out the set - once on their serve and once following a sideout by Syracuse. As in the first set, they failed to capitalize and despite having two more chances serving at 25-24 and 26-25, they ultimately paid the price for letting the Orange off the hook falling by a 27-29 final.

Ashleigh Crutcher returned to the floor in limited action for Maryland but showed the effects of five weeks off. Though she managed ten kills, her hitting percentage of .030 showed her rust. The Terps were without the services of freshman setter Julia Anderson who fractured a finger in practice this week as well as libero Sarah Harper who missed the third set with an apparent illness. Dani Bozzini stepped in for Harper picking up five of her six digs in the third set. Freshman setter Whitney Craigo made her first appearance as a Terp registering fourteen assists playing in place of Anderson. Amy Dion had a double-double leading the team with 18 assists and 11 digs while Mary Cushman led the team in kills with eleven. The Terps return to the floor on Sunday for a two pm match with Boston College.

So, why did I arrive so late at volleyball? Well, FHFAN started the night at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex where the top ranked Maryland field hockey team took on the fourth ranked Syracuse Orange. The outcome, a thrilling 2-1 overtime win for the still undefeated Terrapins.

Despite an unusual six pm start time, fall was definitely in the air when Syracuse opened the game and the Orange had the better run of the opening sixteen or seventeen minutes managing two shots and a penalty corner. Maryland goalkeeper Natalie Hunter came up with a strong kick save on the corner to keep the game scoreless. In the middle of the half, Maryland seemed to adjust to Syracuse's speed and began to put pressure on a sound Orange defense. The first Terrapin opportunity arose in the nineteenth minute when Maxine Fluharty found Jill Witmer in scoring position but the senior's shot went just wide. Sophomore Alyssa Parker had two chances in the twenty-second and twenty-third minutes. The first came on a feed from Anna Dessoye that Parker missed redirecting and the second came when Ali McEvoy played the ball in from the top of the circle but again Parker pushed the redirect just wide. In what became a pattern, Syracuse quickly countered on the restart and created an opportunity but Hunter was again up to the challenge making a sliding kick save. Next it was Maryland's turn to charge back and in the twenty-sixth minute, Dessoye's shot his the post and a minute later Katie Gerzabek launched a shot that hit the side of the cage. Maryland had a significant advantage late in the half when Syracuse picked up two yellow cards in quick succession. Despite the two player advantage the Terps managed only one shot off the stick of Mieke Hayn against a well-formed Orange defense. The teams went to their respective locker rooms tied at zero at the half.

Maryland opened the half with a player advantage that carried over from the first half. Some excellent work by Hayn set up Maryland's first penalty corner of the match but Syracuse keeper Jess Jecko made a stick save off Sarah Sprink's drive. Play in the early part of the second half was often confined to the Syracuse defensive end as the Terps either possessed the ball or pressed the Orange when they had possession. However, twice in the half Syracuse turned Maryland's pressure against them. The first came in the forty-sixth minute when Syracuse intercepted a pass and used their speed to get behind the Terrapin defense. Hunter came far off her line to make a spectacular save in a one on one situation and Syracuse pushed the second shot wide. The Terps would not be as fortunate three minutes later when the Orange had another breakout and this time succeeded in pushing the high shot over Hunter's outstretched glove.

Maryland looked to gain the equalizer in the fifty-third minute when they earned a penalty corner. Jecko proved impenetrable coming up with a save on Sprink's initial shot as well as back to back saves on follow shots by McEvoy and Maxine Fluharty. A lesser team might have let this sequence take them out of the game but as coach Missy Meharg said, "From the way that we behave, in their hearts, they believe they can win." However, time wound down and with just over five minutes remaining, Meharg elected to pull Hunter out of net and put an extra field player into the mix. The move looked as though it would pay an almost immediate dividend as the Terps quickly picked up another penalty corner. However, Sprink had her shot blocked by the Orange defense. With just under two minutes to play, Syracuse picked up two penalty corners of their own. With Hunter on the sideline, the Terrapin defense faced added pressure. They were up to the task blocking the first shot and clearing the second. And this is where the magic began. All ACC midfielder Maxine Fluharty made a a spectacular run through the Syracuse defense deking at least four players before coming just to the edge of the scoring circle. Fluharty sent the ball in and Jecko, who looked uncertain whether the play started outside or inside the circle hesitated just enough for the ball to carom off her leg and into the cage tying the score for Maryland with just forty-nine seconds to play.

Given a second life, the Terps took quick advantage in the overtime creating a penalty corner just two and a half minutes in. Gerzabek inserted to Sprink who, instead of shooting, passed to McEvoy who had moved to the left of the cage. McEvoy directed a shot toward the far post and Witmer, who was positioned there to screen and distract a defender, redirected the shot giving the Terps the thrilling 2-1 win. Maryland steps out of conference for a second match up with fifteenth ranked Old Dominion at 1 pm Sunday in College Park.

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