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No. 8 Maryland field hockey vs. No. 17 Connecticut Huskies preview

Head coach Missy Meharg will search for win No. 600.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
UMTerps

The No. 8 Maryland Terrapins return home for a brief stint to take on the No. 17 UConn Huskies on Sunday at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park.

Maryland (9-5) is coming off a narrow 1-0 defeat to No. 3 Rutgers on Friday, which saw the Terps put on a brilliant defensive performance. UConn (8-7), on the other hand, is coming off of a dominant road 6-2 victory over Villanova on Friday.

The Terps’ electric offense was held scoreless for the first time versus Rutgers, which was uncharacteristic for a team loaded with the athleticism and speed all over the roster.

With a victory on Sunday, Maryland icon Missy Meharg will earn her 600th victory in a decorated career for the Terps. Maryland leads the all-time series against UConn, with a dominant 7-1 record.

Sunday’s contest will be Maryland’s annual Alumni Weekend Game and Maryland’s 2011 National Championship team will also be honored during Sunday’s matchup.

Now let’s look at the No. 17 UConn Huskies.

UConn Huskies (8-7, 4-1 Big East)

2020 record: 12-2 (8-1 Big East)

The Connecticut Huskies are led by head coach Paul Caddy, who is entering his second season as the leader of the field hockey program. Caddy has recorded 19 seasons at UConn and earned 356 victories during his tenure as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation.

During Caddy’s time with the Huskies, UConn secured three national championships, eight Final Four appearances, and a monumental 27 Big East Championships. The defensive-minded coach has assisted in 14 players earning the Big East Defensive Player of the Year award. UConn currently has an impressive streak of six consecutive seasons of a UConn player earning the defensive honor.

The England native is not a stranger to success for the Huskies and will look to continue the success for the Huskies, during his time at the helm for UConn.

Players to know

Sophia Ugo, freshman forward, No. 29 —The athletically gifted freshman comes into the contest versus Maryland leading the Huskies in goals, recording six total tallies on the season. The Argentina native also leads UConn in shots on the season, with 34 shots in her promising career for the Huskies. Ugo has also chipped in two assists to add to her impressive first season on campus. The budding superstar recorded two goals in UConn’s recent 6-2 victory over Villanova.

Claire Jandewerth, junior back, No. 18 —The spring 2021 Big East All-Tournament team member is tied for second on the team in goals this season, scoring five goals for the Huskies. Jandewerth has dished two assists and recorded nine shots on target this season. The aggressive junior got in on the offensive explosion versus Villanova, scoring a goal in UConn’s dominant victory.

McKenna Sergi, junior midfield, No. 11 —The Greene, New York native has been a consistent contributor of the scoring punch for UConn, scoring five goals for the Huskies this season. The attacking midfielder has accumulated 15 shots on goal this season and she’s been an excellent force on offense for this Huskies team. The former MAX Field Hockey top-50 recruit registered a goal on Friday in UConn’s road victory.

Strengths

Saves. UConn’s defense has been firing on all cylinders all season, as the Huskies have only allowed a mere 1.57 goals per game this season. The Huskies are outscoring their opponents in saves on the season, with a 86 to 59 advantage.

Weakness

Scoring/shots. UConn is averaging a concerning 1.86 goals per game, for a team with Big East championship aspirations. The Huskies are only registering 11.6 shots per contest and will need to increase this statistic to improve their chances in the postseason.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland secure a victory at home to make history? With a victory over No. 17 UConn, Maryland legend Missy Meharg will earn her 600th victory as the unquestioned face of the successful field hockey program. Meharg has won seven national championships and led the Terps to 26 conference titles. The coach has enjoyed great success in College Park and earning a great milestone on her home turf will be a welcomed sight for Maryland and its devoted fans.

2. Can Maryland’s offense get back to its roots? For the first time this season, Maryland was shut out in a game. Maryland is one of the best teams in the nation and its offense is its greatest strength. The Terps can send athletes in waves and can pressure their opponents' cage from the opening quarter to the final quarter, but it was troubling to see them be fairly ineffective against a strong Rutgers team last time out. Maryland star Bibi Donraadt and the crew will look to establish its offense early and put an abrupt end to its recent offensive struggles.

3. Can Maryland protect its home field? Maryland is currently 5-3 at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park, with three of those victories coming against ranked opponents. Maryland has defeated then-No. 20 Saint Joseph’s, No. 21 UMass, and No. 17 Princeton in College Park. The Terps will look to avoid losing two consecutive games this season for the second time this season, with a victory over UConn.