As 2014 draws to a close, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the highlights of the year for Maryland's niche interest sports. It's an exercise I'm calling 14 for 14 (and grateful that so few of us follow the Jewish calendar that I'm not faced with writing 75 for 75). I chose eight team highlights and six individual highlights that I will list chronologically.
April 1, 2014
Women's basketball: Maryland 76 - Louisville 73
This win was special for a few reasons. Foremost among those is that it propelled Maryland to their first Final Four appearance since they won the 2006 National Championship. It was special because two days earlier the fourth seeded Terrapins had throttled the region's top seed, Tennessee 73-62 riding on the back of 33 points and 13 rebounds by All-American Alyssa Thomas. It was special because the Terps had to beat third seeded Louisville on their home court. And, Maryland advanced on another special 22 point 13 rebound performance by Thomas, the region's Most Outstanding Player. Testudo Times covered the story here and here.
April 19, 2014
Men's Lacrosse: Maryland 12 - Notre Dame 8
The Terrapins' men's lacrosse team was coming off a disheartening 11-6 loss at Johns Hopkins when they had to travel to Notre Dame to face the eighth ranked Fighting Irish in the final regular season ACC game. With Charlie Raffa dominating the faceoffs, and Niko Amato performing like an All-American in goal, the Terps raced out to a 4-1 lead. Midway through the third quarter, they had opened a little more breathing room at 8-4. However, the Irish rallied to tie the score at eight just three and a half minutes into the fourth quarter. Maryland responded with four straight goals of their own. The 12-8 win allowed the Terps to claim the regular season ACC Championship in their final year in the league. Testudo Times wrote stories summarizing and analyzing the game.
May 25, 2014
Women's lacrosse: Maryland 15 - Syracuse 12
The setting was John Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University. The attendance was an NCAA record 10,311. The opponents were the Maryland Terrapins and the Syracuse Orange. And the stakes could get no higher with the winner laying claim to the 2014 NCAA Women's Lacrosse National Championship. Entering the game, Maryland had a record of 22-1 having dropped a 15-17 decision early in the season to North Carolina. The Orange were 21-2. Both losses had come to Maryland - once in the regular season and again in the ACC Championship game. Senior Beth Glaros led the Terps with five goals with Brooke Griffin, Kristen Lamon, and Taylor Cummings each adding three. Cummings' second goal - a spectacular play coming after Syracuse had narrowed Maryland's 5-0 lead to 5-4 - was the probable turning point of the contest in which Maryland earned their 12th National Championship. As always, TT provided complete coverage.
May 31, 2014
June 1, 2014
Baseball: Maryland 4 - South Carolina 3
Baseball: Maryland 10 - South Carolina 1
Playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time on over four decades, Maryland faced a daunting task traveling to Columbia, SC where they would likely need to win two games against the host school, the South Carolina Gamecocks. History certainly didn't favor the Terps. The Gamecocks had 29 NCAA Tournament appearances. Maryland was making their fourth. South Carolina had made 11 trips to the College World Series winning back to back National Championships in 2010 and 2011. The Terps had never been past the regional. Even more impressive, however, was USC's 28 game home winning streak in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland had one NCAA Tournament win in program history.
But history carried no weight for this group of Terrapins. On Saturday, the Terrapins jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and held on as the Gamecocks tried to rally. If the partisan Carolina crowd had exited in shock after Saturday's loss to the upstart Terps, they had turned into empty red seats by the time Maryland had scored twice in the fourth and sixth innings and once in the fifth and seventh to take a 6-1 lead on Sunday. Maryland's season ended after the Terps picked up a win at Virginia reaching another program milestone 40 wins in a season.
Relive the full experience in prime Testudo Times fashion:
November 1, 2014
Field Hockey: Maryland 4 - Iowa 1
Here is the pedigree for Maryland's field hockey program:
10 ACC Tournament Championships
26 NCAA Tournament appearances
17 Final Four appearances
8 National Championships
Looking at the breadth of this program's history, it seems unlikely that a 4-1 win at home over a team that failed to reach the NCAA Tournament could be of much significance. And in future years, it Will Likely be looked upon as little more than an ordinary win. But 2014 was no ordinary year for Maryland athletics. Beginning in the fall of 2014 the Maryland Terrapins played their first season as members of the Big Ten Conference. One of the signal differences between the ACC and the B1G is that, in most sports, the latter awards the title of Conference Champion to the program that wins the regular season. Thus, when the field hockey squad secured the 4-1 win over the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes on that chilly first Saturday in November, they did more than win that sport's first conference championship. They became the first Maryland team in any sport to claim the title Big Ten Champions. Noah covered the game and I covered the gloat.
November 5, 2014
Men's Soccer: Maryland 3 - Rutgers 2
A mere four days after field hockey claimed Maryland's first Big Ten title, another squad with a significant pedigree - the Maryland men's soccer team completed an improbable run to the Terrapins' first Big Ten men's championship. The Terps traveled to Piscataway, NJ to face fellow conference newcomer, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Though they had been selected by the coaches as the preseason favorites to win the conference, the Terps had experienced an uncharacteristically slow start to their inaugural B1G season. Through the first 10 games they had a record of 3-5-2 and were 1-2-1 in conference play. Then an odd thing happened. No, it wasn't Maryland winning three straight conference games and seven straight overall headed into the game at Rutgers. It was more that the streak happened concurrently with all the teams that could have kept Maryland from winning the title losing and tying their games in the precise configuration the Terps needed to control their destiny in that regard. The equation was simple. Win and the title belonged to the Terps. Any other result and a different school would wear the champion's crown. Mael Corboz, George Campbell, and David Kabelik got the Terrapins all the offense they needed and another B1G trophy found its way to Maryland.
November 16, 2014
Men's soccer: Maryland 2 - Indiana 1
The Big Ten doesn't hold a postseason volleyball tournament. Only the top eight teams from the regular season play in the women's soccer tournament. The Terrapins finished ninth failing to qualify. By mid-November it was clear that, as expected, the football team wouldn't represent the Eastern Division in that sport's conference championship game. Maryland's cross country team (women only) finished last in their first Big Ten Tournament. And, in spite of holding the top seed, field hockey lost 3-1 to Northwestern in the championship game. Thus, less than two weeks removed from wrapping up the B1G Championship, Coach Sasho Cirovski and his squad represented Maryland's last hope for a fall sports Tournament Championship.
The game, played in College Park by virtue of the Terps holding the top seed, was a contest between two of college soccer's most storied programs - the Maryland Terrapins and the Indiana Hoosiers. The Terps had beaten the Hoosiers 2-1 at Indiana earlier in season and the Hoosiers, remembering how the Terps had attacked them from the start of that game, flipped the script by attacking from the outset. Maryland weathered the storm and took a one goal lead late in the first half. Indiana knotted the score in the 64th minute and it would take a world class strike on a free kick in the 85th minute by Mael Corboz to secure the win and a first ever Big Ten Tournament Championship for any Terrapins team.
November 29, 2014
Volleyball: Maryland 3 - Northwestern 2 (22-25; 25-23; 25-18; 14-25; 15-13)
It's difficult to say that the tenth win in a 10-21 season or a third league win when a team finishes 3-17 in conference play qualifies as a landmark event. And the future may look back at the Terps' 3-2 win over the Northwestern Wildcats as just that - a relatively meaningless win over a team that finished tenth in the league. On the other hand, the win may prove to be the launching point for Maryland volleyball's future success in the Big Ten.
In their second B1G conference match, Maryland lost to Northwestern in a 15-17 five set struggle. Excluding their back to back five set match wins over Rutgers - the Big Ten's other newcomer and the only team to go winless in conference play - the Terps would win only three sets over their next 11 matches. However, in the four games leading up to the season ender against Northwestern, Maryland won five sets - one at Nebraska (an Elite Eight team) and two each against Minnesota and Iowa both of whom had swept Maryland in their first meeting. The only team to sweep Maryland was the eventual National Champion Penn State - a squad that finished their season on a 20 match winning streak that saw them drop only four sets. Still, the Terps had not found a way to win against a traditional B1G institution. Until that Saturday night against Northwestern. Maryland volleyball fans will have to wait until next fall to see if coach Steve Aird's squad will use this win as motivation to commit to do the necessary off season work to start the program's climb up a very steep hill.
After a break, I'll be back with my choice of six individual moments to wrap-up my choices of 14 for 14.