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On to the quarter finals. Maryland field hockey tops Princeton 5-1

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Maryland and Princeton met in a downpour in a regular season game that the Terps won 8-1. They met again on a cold November Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland advanced with a 5-1 win over a much improved Princeton squad.

Todd Carton

When Maryland and Princeton field hockey teams met in the regular season, the Terps were an offensive juggernaut that simply steamrolled the Tigers. Saturday's first round NCAA Tournament game was a bit of different story but with a similar result. This one ended 5-1 in the Terps' favor allowing Maryland to advance to the second round.

First half - On the board first, second and third

Princeton won the toss and opened with possession but Maryland was the first to pressure the scoring circle. As has been so often this season much of the instigation came from freshman Moira Putsch though the Terps' first shot came from Katie Gerzabek just two minutes in.

The first point where the Tigers showed how they had improved from the first game came on their counter attack. They penetrated the scoring circle and had a dangerous chance deep in the center of the circle but Kasey Tapman plucked the ball out of the air and Maryland eventually cleared.

Maryland would crack the scoreboard first and one contributing factor was a prescient substitution by Terrapins head coach Missy Meharg. Meharg sent senior Welma Luus into the game in the 12th minute. Thirty-seven seconds later, Luus dribbled into the circle crossing from right to left and drove a shot inside the left post giving Maryland a 1-0 lead just over 12 minutes in.

Getting off to a quick start had been a point of focus for the Terps in the days following the loss to Northwestern in the B1G Tournament final according to Sarah Sprink. "We debriefed the game and realized that it was us who were not on point. We talked about focusing on on what we do on the field and playing our brand of hockey."

In spite of some stalwart work by Princeton goalie Anya Gersoff including staving off four Maryland penalty corners in a two minute span, the Terps would take a 2-0 lead on a determined effort by Putsch. The freshman got deep in the circle and fought off three Tigers' defenders to eventually push the ball to the far post past Gersoff. Gersoff's play was another point where Princeton showed improved effort and execution.

Maryland drew their fifth penalty corner as the half ended when Gersoff stopped a shot but fell and covered it with her body. The Terps made a major shake up in their injection. The play was still initiated by Anna Dessoye, as it has been much of the season, but rather than coming from the goalie's right, the Terps moved to the opposite side of the goal. Sarah Sprink made the stop, pushed the ball into the circle and got her shot past Gersoff and a 3-0 halftime lead for the Terps.

Second Half - Wrapping it up

Needing to make a comeback, Princeton came out more aggressively to start the second half. In spite of the Tigers' efforts, the Terps are simply the more talented team and Princeton's fight, valiant as it might have been, went nearly literally for naught as the Tigers would strike for their only goal with just four seconds remaining in the game.

Maryland would pick up two more scores both on similar plays and both registered by Steffi Schneid. The first was again one that the Terps hadn't used previously. With Dessoye getting a break, the injection duty fell to Putsch. Gerzabek made the stop and pushed the ball to Schneid who started a charge from far outside the circle. Schneid's shot cracked the board inside the left post.

Schneid's second score came on a similar play but Gersoff, who had had a spectacular sequence of three consecutive saves a few minutes earlier, got her stick on the shot. However, she was unable to make the stop. Said Meharg after the game, "Steffi's been on the march. She's been training very well with her drag flick on both sides of the cage." Schneid added, "The way the flyer was flying out, the left side was completely open."

Brooke Cabrera was solid in goal playing in her first NCAA Tournament game. The fifth year senior finished with five saves including several on Princeton penalty corners before allowing just the lone goal late in the game.

The Terps will take to the pitch Sunday afternoon to face the winner of Saturday's second game between Wake Forest and Albany for the right to move to the Final Four.