#2 Maryland came into their senior day and season finale against #14 Iowa with a share of the Big Ten regular season title in hand. They needed a win to take the title outright. Maryland honored their seniors Brooke Cabrera, Maxine Fluharty, Katie Gerzabek, Steffi Schneid and Welma Luus in a brief but heart-warming pre-game ceremony on a chilly and windy Saturday afternoon in College Park. Maryland Field Hockey was trying to become the first team in Maryland history to win a Big Ten title.
The First Half
Iowa successfully defended Maryland's two penalty corners in the first couple of minutes as the Terps unleashed a barrage at Iowa goalkeeper Alexandra Pecora early on.
Maxine Fluharty got the scoring started for Maryland with 18:28 left in the first half with a hard shot into the right corner of the cage. The play was set up by a brilliant poke check in the Maryland third by Alyssa Parker to thwart Iowa's counter-attack. Parker ran the length of the field and delivered a ball into the circle. Pecora kicked it away and Fluharty knocked it in for her team-leading 14th goal of the season.
Parker took a pass from Sarah Sprink off a penalty corner and snuck it past Pecora with 2:28 left in the half to give the Terps a 2-0 lead that they would take into the half. Fluharty has now scored in five of the last six games and Parker has scored in five of the past seven games for the Terps. The Terps had seven penalty corners and out-shot the Hawkeyes 16-4 in the first half and Pecora had 10 saves.
The Second Half
Iowa's offense was more aggressive coming out of the locker room in the second half and put more pressure on Maryland senior goalie Brooke Cabrera. Cabrera came off her line a number of times and made three saves in the first 10 minutes of the half.
Dani Hemeon, playing in her final regular season game as a Hawkeye, got Iowa on the board with a little over 20 minutes left to play in the game. Hemeon launched a rocket of a shot off of a rebound after Brooke Cabrera saved Iowa's first shot off of a penalty corner. It took Maryland about a minute to respond. Lein Holsboer found Anna Dessoye who scored her 11th goal of the season to push the lead back to two. Dessoye increased her point total on the season to 38 which leads the team.
Maryland had a senior captain to senior captain connection late in the second half. Maxine Fluharty took a pass from Katie Gerzabek and scored her second goal of the game and 15th of the season with 8:53 left to play to make it 4-1 in favor of Maryland. Fluharty's goal was a beauty. She took one dribble inside the circle and fired a bullet into the corner of the cage. Pecora is still looking for the smoking gun. Brooke Cabrera only allowed one goal and had five saves in her last regular season start for the Terps. After the game Maryland Head Coach Missy Meharg said, "Brooke is the heartbeat of this team. She's meant a tremendous amount to the program and always will. She's a spectacular goalkeeper and can lead this team to greatness in November."
Maryland Field Hockey won the ACC Championship during their last season in the Atlantic Coast Conference and now they have captured the Big Ten Championship during their first season in the Big Ten. This program is accustomed to winning championships but this one felt special all the same. "It's been a great ride being in the Big Ten...Championships mean everything to us. This is what we stand for. This is what we do.," said Meharg.
After making the Final Four for the last six seasons, the Terps have NCAA Championship on their minds. Maxine Fluharty said, "This isn't the end." The Terps will be the top seed when Big Ten Tournament play begins in Ann Arbor next week and the first round of the NCAA Tournament starts November 15th.