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No. 4 Maryland field hockey knocks off No. 3 UConn, 2-0

The Terps take down their second consecutive top-five opponent.

Riley Donnelly Maryland field hockey Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

In the 27th minute, sophomore defender Riley Donnelly jumped into the air and raised her left hand, quickly embracing senior midfielder Madison Maguire after she netted the second goal of the day for Maryland field hockey.

Donnelly received a cross from freshman midfielder Emma DeBerdine and slapped a shot right at the keeper. Just before UConn redshirt sophomore goalie Cheyenne Sprecher could block the shot, Maguire reached her stick out in front and redirected the ball into the cage.

The goal was originally credited to Donnelly, but after the game it was reviewed and given to Maguire. The score the Terps from the No. 3 Huskies, taking a 2-0 victory Sunday — their second consecutive over a top-five opponent.

“I don’t know if [Maguire] got a touch on it or the defender got a touch on it, but their goalie went down and it was just a great opportunity,” Donnelly said. “It was just really exciting. 1-0 versus 2-0 is just a huge difference in field hockey.”

This victory was Maryland’s fourth shutout win, but for UConn, it was the first time this year it was held scoreless.

“It’s great for Noelle [Frost],” head coach Missy Meharg said. “Anytime you’re able to shut out a program like that with players on that field like they have — they have forwards that attack seven just like we do — so it’s a great testament to Noelle.”

It seemed like the Huskies were going to be the aggressors in the matchup after they were able to put the pressure on the Terps’ defense early. In the early parts of the second quarter, UConn had already poured on six shots compared to the Maryland's two.

But the onslaught of shots didn’t matter as they didn’t have anything to show for it. Maryland had limited opportunities early, but made the difference by being effective on the opportunities it got.

In the 17th minute, the Terps penetrated the UConn circle and senior midfielder Madison Maguire was in the middle of it all. The senior tapped a pass to the top of the circle where the scorching hot sophomore midfielder Linda Cobano corralled it and slapped a rocket into the left side of the cage.

“Linda just has a really powerful hit,” Donnelly said. “So even if it’s not always exactly where she wants it, it’s just really hard for the goalie to react to it because it’s so fast.”

For the rest of the game, Maryland made it very tough on the Huskies’ offense and limited any clean chances for UConn.

After their second goal, the Terps continued to put the pressure on UConn, firing off shots at will. With the 2-0 lead, Maryland added nine shots, but couldn’t get another into the back of the net.

In the 51st minute, the Maryland defense made a mistake and gave UConn a penalty stroke. Senior forward Svea Boker, who averages a goal per game, had a one-on-one opportunity, but Terps goalie Noelle Frost dove to her right and stopped it with her outstretched glove. Maguire’s goal would hold for the victory, putting the the Terps at 11-1 this season.

“It’s not stressful at all,” Meharg jokingly said about back-to-back top-five wins. “It’s a lot of fun. This is what we do it for. I love this team, the energy, the staff, we believe that we can play.”

Three things to know

  1. Cobano continues to be an offensive threat. After back-to-back two goal games last week against Princeton and Rutgers, the sophomore transfer from Germany has not slowed down. Cobano has continued to get a ton of offensive opportunities for Maryland, and she's been successful at converting. After today’s game, Cobano has totaled a team-high seven goals through 10 games.

“I’m glad that I can help the team,” Cobano said. “If it’s with scoring or making good passes or defending, or whatever. It’s all just as important as scoring.”

2. Maryland’s second half defense got it done. After allowing the Huskies to fire off seven first half shots, including two on goal, Maryland only allowed a three shots in the second half. Not only were the Terps able to limit the shots, but they also showed much more discipline. In the first half, UConn drew two penalty corners, but only recorded one in the second half, where the Terps were able to stop the set pieces.

3. The Terps added another top-five win. Last season, Maryland recorded two top-five victories in the regular season and two more in the NCAA tournament. This year, the Terps have already matched the regular season total from last year after back-to-back wins against top-five opponents.

“It’s good that we meet those opponents now and gain the confidence that we can win over them,” Cobano said. “So that’s a big step that we took today.”