As Terrapin fans continued celebrating Saturday's 37-0 thrashing of West Virginia, a good day got even better as two more Maryland teams pulled out wins. At the same time the women's soccer team took to Ludwig Field to defeat the sixth ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a 1-0 nail biter, the field hockey team faced the Michigan Wolverines at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex also coming away with the shutout win by a final of two to nothing winning their eighth consecutive game to open the season. (My apologies to Coach Morgan for choosing to attend the field hockey game but I am still FHFAN after all.)
I haven't seen enough B1G hockey to determine if today's game is an indication of the style of play Maryland will face in that league beginning next fall or if it is a style particular to Michigan but watching this game so closely on the heels of Friday's ACC match up made for an interesting comparison. Friday's game was free flowing, fast paced and highly skilled. Sunday's contest was choppy, slower, and considerably more physical.
Michigan was certainly not intimidated by Maryland's reputation and opened the game aggressively with a good opportunity in the third minute that a solid Terrapin defensive effort stifled. The Wolverines had another excellent scoring chance in the eleventh minute but a sliding save on the initial shot and the rebound by senior goalkeeper Natalie Hunter kept the game scoreless as the Terps cleared the ball out of the circle. The Terps then countered quickly taking less than a minute to move the ball downfield and create a shot opportunity but Michigan's goaltender, Haley Jones, displayed some acrobatics of her own making a leaping save of Maxine Fluharty's high line drive at the far post. Maryland's Hayley Turner took the long restart and dribbled into the circle where she drew the first penalty corner of the day. Freshman Mieke Hayn stopped Turner's insertion and directed the ball to Sarah Sprink. The sophomore from Germany blasted a shot that hit the back of the goal cage with a satisfying and resounding thwack giving the Terps a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes and 25 seconds.
Sprink's goal appeared to energize the Terps who had appeared a bit sluggish at the outset. In the eighteenth minute Anna Dessoye cut in front of a Michigan player intercepting a pass near midfield. The sophomore dribbled quickly into the circle drawing another penalty corner. The Terps failed to capitalize as Jones made a sliding save on Ali McEvoy's drive. As often happens, the Wolverines cleared quickly and drew their first penalty corner of the day taking advantage of a somewhat disorganized Terrapin defense. Though the shot found the net at the back of the cage, it was high and thus not a legal goal. Next it was Maryland's turn race down the field before Michigan's defense could organize and the Terps successful drew a penalty corner. This time, McEvoy's aim was true and her score put Maryland ahead 2-0 in the twenty-first minute.
From this point forward, someone found the secret to slowing a Terrapin offense that had averaged over six goals per game - penalty cards. Sprink picked up a two minute green card in the twenty-sixth minute, Casey Tapman received a similar penalty eight and a half minutes into the second half. The next penalty was a two minute green card issued to Michigan's Lauren Thomas for inappropriate language complaining about a call. But someone weren't happy with the Terps having a player advantage and just over a minute into the Michigan penalty equalized the squads at ten players each by issuing a five minute yellow card to Maryland's Katie Gerzabek. The yellow card came out again citing the Terps' Shelby Sydnor with just over a half minute remaining on Gerzabek's penalty briefly leaving the Terrapins two players down. This meant Maryland, "couldn't presss up high anymore and had to fall back to the middle of the field," as Coach Missy Meharg described it. She insists, though, that being a player down doesn't, "necessarily mean that when you get the ball you want to stay in place as well." Meharg also said she was obviously very pleased with the outcome. She added, "Michigan is fit. They're well coached and it's always an honor to play them. Perhaps they took us out of our comfort zone a bit."
The Terps take to the road for the next three games facing seventeenth ranked Boston College on Friday, followed quickly by a tilt with seventh ranked UMass on Sunday before capping off the road trip in Chapel Hill the following Saturday when they face off against the top ranked UNC Tar Heels. Maryland's next home game is October 8th when the Hofstra Pride visit College Park.
The performance of the Maryland women's soccer team today against sixth ranked Wake Forest certainly made me wish for a clone or at least a sequential rather than a simultaneous schedule of the two events. The Terps took down the Demon Deacons by a 1-0 final. The lone goal of the match came early off the foot of Hayley Brock. It was the senior forward's eighth of the year. The sequence leading to the goal began with a Megan Gibbons throw in to Lauren Berman. The Massachusetts freshman played a through ball to the Massachusetts senior. Brock used her speed to get past the Wake defense and facing a one on one situation with the goalkeeper drove her shot into the lower left corner. Still a long and dangerous eighty-six minutes and twenty-three seconds remained in the match.
Brock nearly picked up a second goal when, after taking a pass from Ashley Spivey, she beat two defenders down the left side. However, the Demons keeper Audrey Bledsoe made a diving save to keep the visitors within a goal. Shortly before the half ended, the Terps managed to find a hole in Wake's defense for a third time when sophomore Riley Barger played a ball over the top to Cory Ryan. The junior beat both her defenders but sailed her shot just high.
The Demon Deacons had a very dangerous chance in the fifty fourth minute after a Maryland handball gave them a direct free kick from twenty eight yards. The Terps escaped when the shot sailed over the crossbar. A corner kick in the 75th minute gave the Deacons their last best chance to tie the score. However, the shot went wide. Maryland didn't entirely retreat into a defensive shell in the second half and had a few good chances but were unable to break through with a shot on goal. Sophomore Rachelle Beanlands was solid in goal for the Terrapins helping to preserve the win by picking up six saves in her fourth shutout of the season.
The road gets no easier for the 6-3 (2-1 ACC) Terps as they hit the road for two more ACC battles. They first travel to Notre Dame to take on the seventh ranked Fighting Irish on Thursday night September 26. That will be followed by a Sunday game against the top ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Charlottesville.