With games against Drexel on Saturday and Temple on Sunday, the third ranked Maryland field hockey squad got it's final preparation before opening its Big Ten season. The Terps easily handled the Dragons taking a comfortable 3-0 win in the first of the back to back contests. They backed that up with a 3-0 win over the Owls on Sunday.
Saturday - No fire from the Dragons
Saturday's game was a day for freshman Moira Putsch to shine picking up the second and third goals of her young. Terrapins career. Though Drexel picked up the game's first penalty corner in the game's third minute, they failed to get off a shot and Putsch would open the scoring with a goal in the run of play. The young forward registered the first of her two scores just 13 minutes into the contest on a scoring sequence started outside the scoring circle with a long pass into the circle from senior midfielder Steffi Schneid. Putsch found the right spot and redirected the pass into the cage beyond sprawling Dragons' goalie Jantien Gunter who had picked up two saves earlier in the game.
Gunter was almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the final score respectable. The Drexel goalkeeper, who seems to raise her game when she faces the Terrapins, finished the game with a career high 18 saves besting her previous high of 16 that she picked up against the Terps last year. The senior from the Netherlands would pick up four of those saves between Putsch's goal and the end of the first half to hold the deficit to 1-0 and keep Drexel's hopes for an upsest of the number three team in the country alive.
Just four minutes into the second half, Putsch more or less put and end to those hopes. Maryland picked up an early penalty corner - their first of eight in the half. They would total ten for the game. With Putsch inserting, the Terps ran a play reminiscent of one longtime fans will remember seeing them run for Katie O'Donnell. After putting (or Putsching) the ball in play, the freshman broke for the post where she took a pass from Sprink and scored on the back door play.
Maryland continued to press forward. After out shooting Drexel 9-0 in the first half, the Terps launched 17 shots to the Dragons' four. The assault on goal would finally pay off in the 57th minute when they capitalized on another penalty corner. This time, the Terrapins ran a more direct play. Anna Dessoye played the insertion, Katie Gerzabek made the stop, Sarah Sprink took the shot, and the Terps took a 3-0 lead that held up as the final score.
Deja Vu Sunday - Temple hasn't a prayer
Rather than going to the Temple on Sunday, the Temple came to Maryland in a contest of two ranked squads with the 16th ranked Owls taking on the third ranked Terrapins. The Terps had all the early pressure and much of the possession for the game's first five minutes when a misplayed back pass by Maryland nearly led to a breakaway chance for the Owls. However, a fast recovery and superb tackle by Casey Tapman dispelled the danger.
In the middle third of first half Putsch showed her growing confidence getting two shots on goal in the space of about two minutes. The second came after a nifty double move down the middle of the field but Temple goalie Lizzie Millen made the save on the high shot.
Continued pressure by the Terps led to the first penalty corner in the thirteenth minute. Millen made the save on Sprink's drive but the ball touched a Temple field player on the rebound and Maryland had an immediate second chance. It's usually not a good idea to give the Terrapins a second chance in that situation and it wasn't in this instance. Dessoye's insertion went to Gerzabek on the stop. The senior midfielder played the ball left to fellow senior Maxine Fluharty and bang! The ball went inside the right post and hit the 18 inch board with a satisfying thwack for Terrapins fans.
Maryland doubled its lead to two in the 23rd minute on another penalty corner chance. On this play Maryland designed their set piece to get wide. The defense blocked the initial shot but Carrie Hanks was in position to pick up the rebound and drive it home.
Temple had one golden chance on an attack that developed with a drive along the baseline. The ball played out into the circle pulling Maryland goalie Brooke Cabrera far off the line. The Owls got the shot behind the Terrapins' keeper but Steffi Schneid came along and and rescued her goalie by making a high stick save barely preventing the ball from crossing the line and allowing the Terps to take their 2-0 lead into the half.
As they had on Saturday, the the Terps turned up the heat in the second half. In Saturday's second half, Maryland out shot Drexel 17-4 and in Sunday's second half, Maryland held a 16-2 shot advantage with a corresponding 5-1 advantage in penalty corners. And it was on that fifth penalty corner that the Terrapins added their third goal. This one was simply a repeat of Saturday's third goal - a power drive by Sarah Sprink off the stop by Gerzabek. The minor differences were that Anna Dessoye inserted the pass on Saturday and it came in the 57th minute while Putsch inserted the pass on Sunday in the 50th minute.
Though Maryland had a number of additional opportunities, including a play that looked quite similar to the one on which Temple nearly picked up their first half score with an Owls defender picking up her goalie, they failed to crack Owls' goalie Lizzy Millen who finished with 17 saves equaling her career high set in the second game of the season last year when the Owls dropped a 5-1 decision to the Terps.
Now it's on to Evanston where Maryland will take on the 13th ranked Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday September 20th in the first of three consecutive road games to open their inaugural Big Ten season. The following weekend the Terps will travel to Michigan to tackle the Wolverines followed by a game against the 19th ranked Michigan State Spartans. The Terps will return home for their B1G home opener when they host Ohio State on October third.