The Maryland field hockey team traveled to Durham Friday and I followed them on Saturday to watch not only their last regular season ACC game against Duke but their last regular season ACC game ever. Fortunately, the team made it worth the trip by continuing to play the high level of hockey they've regained since their lone loss to Old Dominion two weeks ago as the Terrapins completely throttled the Blue Devils by a 5-1 final.
Though they didn't manage an early shot, the Terps took control of the game early making two penetrations into the scoring circle in the first six minutes while Duke needed eight minutes to reach the Scoring circle on Maryland's end of the field. Welma Luus got the Terps their first shot albeit from a tough angle coming along the right baseline. In the thirteenth minute, Anna Dessoye made a long run into the circle from midfield and drew an interference call to earn Maryland's first penalty corner of the match. And the Terps took advantage. Maxine Fluharty stopped Dessoye's insertion but didn't do so cleanly. The junior calmly dribbled into the circle and launched a shot that Duke goalkeeper Lauen Blazing saved but failed to control. Ali McEvoy picked up the rebound and Dessoye redirected her shot into the cage from the near post.
Next it was Alyssa Parker's turn to create problems for Duke's defense. The sophomore from Woodbine made two dangerous runs into the circle. The first coming along the right base line yielded little but the second from just left of the circle created Maryland's second penalty corner of the day. Again the Terps capitalized with Fluharty making the stop and passing left to Ali McEvoy. The senior passed right to Sarah Srink who had circled behind Fluharty and Sprink drove her shot into the cage to give Maryland a two goal lead. The Terps continued to exert pressure on the Blue Devils' defense earning short corners in the nineteenth, twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh minutes though they didn't capitalize. The sixth corner came when Blazing saved but didn't control Jill Witmer's shot with about three and a half minutes left in the first stanza. Dessoye was credited with her second goal for again putting herself in the right position at the post to redirect McEvoy's drive. The Terps carried the 3-0 lead into the break.
Duke played the second half with a bit of desperation and beginning in the fortieth minute began to control the play and strain Maryland's defense for nearly nine minutes. However, the Terps' back line was solid and protected the goal area well. Of course when a team presses so far forward, they leave themselves vulnerable to counter attack and Maryland had a breakaway chance in the forty-ninth minute as Witmer used her speed to get behind Duke's defense and made a well placed pass to Mieke Hayn who was nearly alone at the top of the circle. However, the freshman failed to make solid contact and Blazing came up with the save coming far off her line. The lapse didn't deter the Devils attack and they earned four corners in fairly rapid sequence but the Terrapin defense and goalkeeper Natalie Hunter came up big and kept the Blue Devils off the board.
In what may have been a frustrating sequence for Duke, Fluharty intercepted a pass near midfield and made a long pass to Emma Rissinger along the deep right. Rissinger made a centering pass to Parker who had an easy tap in from about three yards to put Maryland ahead 4-0 in the sixty-first minute. So despite having controlled most of the run of play for the better part of twenty-five minutes, Duke found themselves in a deeper hole than they'd been in to start the half. Duke came back at the Terps on the restart and worked into space for a good look at the goal but Hunter came up with the last of her seven saves on the afternoon before being replaced by junior tri-captain Brooke Cabrera. Maryland countered quickly off Hunter's save and before Duke's defense could reshape, Fluharty found Hayn open from about eight yards on the left side and the freshman didn't miss on her second good scoring opportunity. Duke managed to break through on a penalty stroke in the sixty-fifth minute but that was the only goal conceded by Cabrera as she contributed three solid saves in her seven minutes of play.
Having come through ACC play with a perfect 6-0 record, Maryland now heads off to Boston as the top seed for their final ACC Tournament which begins Thursday afternoon. As the top seed, Maryland has the only bye in this year's tournament and won't play until the semi-finals on Friday. The Terps will face the winner of the match between Duke and Virginia. The Terps are looking to win their tenth ACC Tournament championship - all coming under coach Missy Meharg - and their first since 2010.