I decided to make the trip up I-95 to get my first look at the Maryland's field hockey team on Sunday. Despite needing all of the three and a half hours I allotted to make the two and a half hour drive because some genius in Delaware thought closing two lanes for roadwork on I-95 North on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend was a good idea, I got to Geasey Field at Temple with time to spare thanks only to the fact that the first game of Temple's Conference Cup had gone to a shootout. Fortunately, the Terps made it worth the aggravation with an impressive 5-1 win over the host Temple Owls.
Maryland opened the game with possession and attacked quickly as Ali McEvoy lofted a pass to Jill Witmer but the senior's shot went wide across the goal mouth and Alyssa Parker couldn't quite reach the shot to redirect it. Temple countered fairly quickly and drew the first penalty corner just two and a half minutes in. Natalie Hunter, making her first start of the season in goal, made the save.
Maintaining their aggressive style, the Terps developed a good opportunity for Parker but Temple goalkeeper Lizzy Millen thwarted the attempt with the first of her eighteen saves in the day. Maryland continued to pressure and drew their first penalty corner. Although Millen blocked Katie Gerzabek's shot, McEvoy was in place to knock in the rebound and give the Terrapins a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute. Despite continually peppering Temple with shots - the Terps would finish the half with 22 shots - Maryland was unable to penetrate the goal.
Following a sequence of three consecutive Maryland penalty corners beginning the in the thirty second minute during which Millen again stepped up big for the Owls, Temple countered on a long clear, created some chaos in front of Maryland's cage and slipped a shot past Hunter to even the score with just 1:26 to play in the half. But the Terps came back quickly on the restart and drew a penalty corner in the last minute of play. Millen made the initial save of Sarah Sprink's blast but Alyssa Parker controlled the rebound and found the back of the cage giving the Terps a 2-1 lead to take into the break.
The second half started slowly with play concentrated in the midfield and neither team able to manage a shot for over thirteen minutes. However, in the forty-ninth minute, Anna Dessoye redirected a perfect crossing pass from Parker to boost the Terrapin lead to two. Maryland continued to pressure and Temple's goalie continued her hot play until Maxine Fluharty took a pass from Steffi Schneid just in side the circle and simply blasted the shot into the cage. The final score of the game came off a penalty corner in the sixty second minute when Sarah Sprink's hard drive was deflected high into the goal off an Owls defender's stick.
I need to say a word about Maryland's defense. Temple finished the game with just three shots and their only shot of the second half came in the sixty-third minute after the Terps had essentially salted the game away with a 5-1 lead. Oh, Natalie Hunter made a fine save on the high shot. Co-captains Sprink and McEvoy were real stalwarts in the back for the Terrapins but for me the real revelation was the play of redshirt sophomore Kasey Tapman who made some brilliant one on one stops and was solid all day. The Terps travel to Old Dominion to face the Monarchs on Friday before opening their home season on Sunday against Drexel.
The late start in field hockey meant I was able to only catch the last twenty minutes or so of Maryland's 2-0 win over Navy. In fact, just as I closed the press box door, Riley Barger made a pass to Cory Ryan who found Gabby Galanti on the left side of Navy's goal drawing the keeper off her line. Galanti got behind the goalie and finished with a crossing shot off the right post in the seventy-first minute.
Apparently the first half was a close very physical affair with Navy playing a disciplined, organized style that challenged the young Terrapin squad. "This game was more physical and more tactical than any game we've played thus far. We had to be good tonight and I thought we were good," said head coach Jonathan Morgan. "We need to find our leadership and Riley Barger's a big one for us. We've got some kids who haven't played a lot that came on and gave us some really great contributions in Sarah Molina and Kayla Shea, and Sarah Fichtner who stepped in and changed the complexion of the game for us."
Galanti's goal gave the Terps a lift and in the eighty-second minute, Megan Gibbons found Haley Brock on the right side. Brock created some space and drove a rocket into the left corner to up the lead to 2-0 to secure Maryland's fourth consecutive win. Looking forward, Morgan said, "I think our attack is dangerous right now. I think we're going to be able to score some goals this year." He added that while the team defense has been pretty good, he sees some place to work on particularly with the possession from the backs into the midfield. "That's where we need to start showing some growth." The 4-0 Terps take to the road for three straight including a pair in California and their ACC opener at Clemson. The fifteenth ranked Terrapins will have their ACC home opener Thursday September nineteenth against Virginia Tech at seven p.m.
The men's soccer team finished their west coat swing dropping a 3-2 overtime decision to the Cal Berkeley Bears. The Bears got off to a 1-0 lead in the fourteenth minute scoring on a header off a corner kick. Cal took that lead into halftime but Schillo Tshuma pulled the Terps even less than two minutes into the second half blasting in a shot from fifteen yards off a cross from Patrick Mullins.
California quickly jumped back into the lead scoring off another corner just four minutes after Tshuma's score. A rocket from twenty-four yards off the foot of Jake Pace again pulled the Terps even in the seventy-ninth minute. The score remained tied at two and for the second straight match the Terps were looking at overtime. Cal scored the winning goal again capitalizing when a corner kick became a coroner kick for Maryland in the ninety sixth minute. The Terps home opener is Friday night at Ludwig against ACC rival Duke.