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No. 2 Maryland field hockey weekend preview: No. 6 Iowa and Indiana

Terps will look to continue their success after two top-five wins.

Maryland field hockey vs Penn State Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

After picking up back-to-back wins over then-No. 5 Northwestern and then-No. 3 UConn, No. 2 Maryland field hockey will remain in College Park to play host for a couple of Big Ten games. In addition to earning two victories, it was also the first time that Maryland had beaten a top-five team this year, and it did it twice.

“What I’m very pleased about is their coachability at breaks — end of quarters and at halftime,” coach Missy Meharg said. “So their hockey IQ is coming along. I mean it’s not great, but we’re still a work in progress, which is really exciting.”

This weekend, Maryland hosts No. 6 Iowa on Friday and Indiana on Sunday. With the Terps on their home turf, they have the opportunity to pick up two conference wins and create separation from the rest of the Big Ten.

“Just playing at home, all of our families come and it’s really nice,” senior midfielder Madison Maguire said. “We’re used to this field. When we step out on this field, it’s gonna be Maryland hockey.”

No. 6 Iowa — Friday, 4 p.m.

Last year, the Hawkeyes finished 14-7, but they are a much better team this year. They are 9-2 on the season, coming into this matchup 3-0 in Big Ten play, just like the Terps.

The Hawkeyes totaled 51 goals through 21 games in 2018. Iowa has already scored 39 goals through its first 11 games this season. Similar to Maryland, the Hawkeyes’ offense is high-powered and is fueled by plenty of players that can score. Iowa has 12 different players that have scored at least one goal this year.

The Hawkeyes have also been impressive on the defensive end, allowing just 12 goals this season. With the combination of great offense and defense, Iowa has been able to take down four top-25 teams. However despite coming close, the Hawkeyes haven’t been able to notch a top-five victory this season, taking losses to then-No. 1 North Carolina and then-No. 2 Duke.

Last season, Maryland and Iowa faced off once in the regular season, when the Terps won 2-1 in Iowa City, Iowa. The two teams then met in the Big Ten Championship, when Maryland pulled out another 2-1 victory.

Players to know

Katie Birch, senior midfielder/defender, No. 11. Birch is one of the four players with five goals on the Hawkeyes’ team this season. Not only is the senior tied for the most goals on the team, but she also leads the team in assists with eight. Her five goals and eight assists totals a team-high 18 points.

Maddy Murphy, junior forward, No. 26. Last season, Murphy finished as the team’s leading point scorer with 33 (13 goals, 7 assists). This year, Murphy hasn’t been the same goal scorer as she was last year but has still managed to make an impact on the offensive end. The junior ranks second for total points with 16 on five goals and six assists.

Leslie Speight, senior goalkeeper, No. 96. In 2018, Speight was very impressive, starting all 21 games and allowing just 1.07 goals per game, while recording 60 saves. This season, the keeper has started all 11 games and allowed 11 goals, with a .667 save percentage.

Indiana — Sunday, 12 p.m.

The Hoosiers haven’t had a winning record since 2014 and it doesn’t look like that will change this season. Indiana comes into this matchup with a 4-7 record, but recently the team has dropped four straight games. During these last four games, the Hoosiers have been outscored 19-4.

For the entirety of the year, Indiana has been outscored 38-19. The Hoosiers have struggled to put goals on the board, but they’ve also had difficulty defending their own net. Indiana allows an average of 3.45 goals per game, while scoring about 1.73.

Last season, Maryland traveled to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Hoosiers, where the Terps came out on top, 4-0. Two of the goals were scored by current Maryland players, redshirt sophomore forward Mayv Clune and Maguire. The two other goals were scored by former Terp Linnea Gonzales.

Players to know

Hailey Couch, sophomore forward, No. 5. Couch is Indiana’s leading point scorer with 15, but also leads the team in goals with seven. The sophomore has scored a goal in back-to-back games coming into this matchup. Her best game of the season came in the team’s lone Big Ten win against Michigan State, when Couch recorded a hat-trick.

Kelsey Giese, senior defender/midfielder, No. 6. Giese has done a little bit of everything for the Hoosiers, recording four goals and four assists. The senior’s best game came against Ohio State, when she racked up two goals. In addition to her 12 total points on the year, Giese also leads the team in shots on goal with 17.

Sachi Ananias, junior goalkeeper, No. 10. The Hoosiers allow on average 3.45 goals per game, but it might be higher if they didn’t have Ananias in goal. The junior has faced 187 shots and has been forced to make 72 saves already this season. Despite the 37 goals allowed, Ananias has a save percentage of .661 this year.

Three things to watch

1. History is on the Terps’ side. Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland has never lost to Iowa or Indiana. Since 2008, Maryland is 8-0 against Iowa, but the last three meetings have been decided by just one goal. The Terps are 5-0 against the Hoosiers since 2014, outscoring them 20-4.

2. The Terps look to defend home field. The streak continues for Maryland as their last win against then-No. 3 UConn made it 20 consecutive home victories. This home field advantage will be important this weekend as Maryland has the opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with a win over Iowa.

“The energy is everything,” senior Jen Bleakney said about the home crowd. “It comes from our sideline and it comes from the bleachers as well, just hearing people rooting you on. Like sometimes you run by and you can hear parents or people just cheering for you in that moment and it kinda like hypes you up.”

3. It will be a family affair. Senior midfielder Madison Maguire will be seeing a familiar face on the Hawkeyes’ side. Maguire’s sister, Makenna, is a sophomore forward/midfielder for Iowa who has tallied one goal and one assist this season. Madison has been a constant offensive threat for Maryland all season long as she leads the team with 19 points (6 goals, 7 assists).

“We don’t really talk trash to each other, I don’t like to do that especially with my sister,” Maguire said with a laugh. “We have a little bit of a competitive edge, but we both play the same [position], we’re both playing forward right now, so we play on opposite sides of the field, so it’s not like we can go up against each other like 1 v 1. So it’s kinda sad, but it’s okay.”