As the final seconds on the clock wound down, the crowd began to roar and fans began to celebrate an impressive accomplishment for Maryland field hockey head coach Missy Meharg. As the team surrounded her in excitement, the fans in the stands pulled out signs with the “600” written on them, not wasting any time to help celebrate the milestone.
The field hockey coach entered the matchup with a chance to reach the historic mark and the team led her there in front of a lively home crowd.
Although it let up two goals in the final five minutes of the game, No. 8 Maryland field hockey secured Missy Meharg’s 600th career win as the Terps defeated No. 17 UConn, 3-2.
Maryland began the game looking to drive the ball toward the middle of the field. The Terps were distributing the ball looking to use their athleticism and speed to charge toward UConn’s cage.
With under 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Maryland did not waste any time to score.
Midfielder/forward Taylor Mason entered a dazzling pass to the middle as midfielder Emma DeBerdine fired a strike that swished into the center of the net. With the goal, Maryland was on the board first with an early 1-0 advantage.
On the other side of the ball, Maryland’s defense pressured UConn, not allowing it to find the equalizer. In the first quarter, Maryland’s defense didn’t allow a single shot from the Huskies, a team that averages 11.8 shots per game.
Maryland goalie Noelle Frost, who secured her 200th career save against Rutgers, continued to be a leader for her team in the matchup. She vocally communicated with her teammates on defensive rotations to help create the pressure needed to keep opponents from taking accurate shots on the cage.
The Terps outshot the Huskies 6-0 in the first quarter as Frost was not put in a position once where she was forced to make a save for the opening 15 minutes.
In the second quarter, Maryland continued to smother UConn on the perimeter with traps and defenders in the passing lane ready to pounce on the ball at any given moment.
Once again, the Terps prevented the Huskies from finding any scoring opportunities. UConn struggled to break through Maryland’s defense to find the shot necessary to tie the game.
At the same time, the Terps offense brought the pressure, taking eight shots during the first half, on the way to their average 17 per game.
With under 13 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Maryland was assessed its third penalty corner of the contest that it would end up using to cash in and extend its lead against the ranked Huskies.
After the insert and initial shot by Rose, Maryland midfielder Belle Bressler received the rebound from Mason on the right side of the cage and delivered a shot that wouldn’t be denied. Maryland stretched its lead to 2-0.
With just over 14 minutes in the fourth quarter, Maryland took a commanding lead, after Maryland forward Hope Rose delivered an outstanding assist to midfielder Emma DeBerdine, as DeBerdine fired a beautiful goal for her second on the day. The Terps would take a commanding 3-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
With Missy Meharg’s 600th victory on the mend, the Terps increased their defensive intensity and smothered the Huskies all over the field; however, that quickly faltered within the final minutes.
With four minutes and 45 seconds in the fourth quarter, UConn recorded its first goal on a penalty corner. UConn back Kourtney Kennedy fired a goal that barely got past Noelle Frost to trim Maryland’s lead to 3-1.
The Huskies showed incredible resilience, recording another goal in less than a minute to give Maryland a scare. With just over three minutes remaining in the contest, UConn midfielder McKenna Sergi fired a shot from the left side of the field that shifted past Frost for UConn’s second goal within three minutes.
The goal would inject life into the Huskies' chances of sending the game into overtime. However, UConn did not find the equalizer as Maryland picked up the pressure and Meharg secured win No. 600 with a win at home versus a ranked opponent.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s defense has been suffocating but wavered in the final minutes of this matchup. In the first half of the contest, the Terps didn’t allow a single shot to UConn. Maryland goalie Noelle Frost was calling out adjustments and assignments for the Terps; it is paying dividends for their defensive rotation. Maryland has not allowed an opponent to score more than two goals in the month of October. Even when it fell to then-No. 1 Iowa on Oct. 3 and then-No. 3 Rutgers, the Terps allowed just two goals and one goal, respectively. The trend continued against the Huskies as Maryland’s defensive unit gave up just two goals.
However, both of those goals were scored within two minutes of each other late in the second half. A Maryland defense that allowed just one shot on goal up until there were just five minutes remaining in the game let up two shots to make the score of this game much closer than it seemed it would be throughout the matchup.
2. Maryland’s offense displayed its versatility. After recording eight shots in the first half, just two in the second frame, the Terps recorded seven shots in the third quarter itself. Maryland finished the game with two different scorers and seven Terps taking a shot on goal.
3. Maryland will be on the road for two pivotal Big Ten games. Maryland will travel this weekend to take on Michigan State on Friday, Oct. 22 and then make a short trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on No. 2 Michigan on Sunday. Michigan State marks Maryland’s first unranked conference opponent since the Terps took on Indiana on Sept. 14. Maryland came away with the 8-2 victory in that one.