Sunday afternoon the Maryland Terrapins and the Old Dominion Monarchs took to the pitch in College Park for the 57th time in their storied rivalry. The only team the Terrapins have faced more often is the North Carolina Tar Heels. Maryland entered with a slight edge at 29-26-1 in the all-time series. At game's end, the Terps had picked up their 30th win with a 3-1 thrashing of the Monarchs.
Rivalry games sometimes bring out the best in both teams and today's game featuring the #2 Maryland Terrapins and the #18 Old Dominion Monarchs was no exception. Maryland typically plays Old Dominion twice a year and the teams split their two games last season - each winning on the other's home field. Because of Maryland's expanded conference schedule, Sunday's meeting was the only time the teams will meet in the 2014 regular season.
First half - getting the initial goal
Maryland got off the first shot of the game, a backhand effort from Katie Gerzabek in the fifth minute. Attacking down the left side, the senior co-captain launched her shot from just inside the circle. It was the sort of shot that gets past the goalie only if she is inattentive. However, ODU's goalie Megan Hept was paying attention and made the relatively easy save.
The Terps had difficulty scoring early and it fell to Maryland goalie Brooke Cabrera to keep them in the contest with two stellar plays. The more spectacular of the two came in the twelfth minute when Old Dominion's Rosario Villagra came down the middle and pushed a pass beyond the stick of Sarah Sprink to Belgian freshman Victoria Rezette. Rozette had found a gap between Kasey Tapman and Rachel Frusher and was able to get behind the two defenders deep in the circle. She had a one on one chance against Cabrera but the Terps' goalie came about five yards off her line, disrupted the shot and made and made the sliding save.
Many of you who may be more familiar with soccer, know the importance of set pieces. These opportunities are equally important in field hockey and Maryland is usually quite efficient at both drawing and taking advantage of those chances. The first of those - and the only corner of the first half for either squad - came late in the 23rd minute and Maryland capitalized on a play designed to take advantage of the scouting report on ODU. The Terps started by overloading the left side. Said Terrapins' head coach Missy Meharg, "That was just watching their right cover and seeing exactly how she gets pinned in."
Rather than having Gerzabek stop Anna Dessoye's insertion that task fell to Sarah Sprink. Sprink declined the shot and passed left to Steffi Schneid who had drifted about four yards into the circle. Dessoye stopped about halfway between the insertion point and the far post, took a pass from Schneid, and swept the ball to the far post to give Maryland a 1-0 lead they would take into halftime.
Second half - widening the gap
Coach Meharg has often said that scoring goals is the most difficult and complicated part of the game. The Terrapins needed nearly 23 minutes and a set play opportunity to solve that puzzle in the first half. It took them over 17 second half minutes to solve the Monarchs' defense and pick up a score in the run of play.
Following a steal by Schneid in the midfield, the Terps attacked down the right side. Gerzabek drove along the back line and played a crisp centering pass to freshman Moira Putsch. The senior and freshman who played a year together in high school appear to be developing a special on field chemistry. Putsch had found an opening in Old Dominion's defense and redirected Gerzabek's laser like pass for the Terrapins' second score of the game.
Later, it was up to Cabrera and her teammate Sprink to preserve the lead. Cabrera stopped another one on one situation when a aerial pass got beyond the Terps' last line of defense after an ODU timeout. On the ensuing penalty penalty corner, when ODU played the insertion from the right rather than the left, Sprink came up with the deflection when the unusual insertion left an open lane for Cassandra Wagner to get a free swing on a shot toward the near post. (Left side insertions are more common because only the flat side of the stick can be used to strike the ball and the flat side forces all players to essentially play right handed and a right side insertion forces players to play against their natural tendencies.)
The Terps would put the game on ice scoring with under seven minutes to play. Like their first score, it would come on a penalty corner. Maxine Fluharty would pick up the insurance goal. Carrie Hanks' pass was behind the senior as she cut toward the goal. However, the pass hit the stick of and ODU defender and caromed back to Fluharty who knocked it home. The Monarchs picked up a late score on a breakaway to avoid the shutout.
Maryland returns to Big Ten play on Friday when they hosst the Penn State Nittany Lions in a 3:30 game that will be featured on BTN.