Less than five minutes into the third quarter, No. 8 Maryland field hockey held a 2-0 lead over Michigan State and was searching for its first goal of the second half.
Maryland forward Taylor Mason fired a strong shot that flew past Michigan State goalie Monique Jardell right into the net to extend its advantage to 3-0.
The Terps extended their lead and continued to work their electric offense all game long, ultimately defeating the Spartans, 4-0 in East Lansing, Michigan, on Friday afternoon.
Maryland set the tone from the jump with offensive pressure and took the ball right into the heart of Michigan State’s defense almost instantly.
Just two minutes into the match, Maryland forward Margot Lawn got into the middle of the defense quickly and fired a quick goal to give the Terps the early 1-0 lead. It was a quick goal for the Terps right from the get-go, and it was an early breakthrough for an offense that came into the game with just 10 goals in its past six games.
After taking the quick one-goal lead in the opening quarter, the Terps were extremely aggressive on the offensive end over the course of the first 15 minutes of the match, as they earned three penalty corners within a five-minute span.
The speed and athleticism of Maryland’s outstanding athletes allowed the Terps to possess the ball for the majority of the first quarter, while smothering the Spartans on the defensive end and forcing turnovers. Michigan State couldn’t manage much against a Maryland defense that has been fairly stout as of late, and the Spartans came away with just one shot attempt that missed the net in the first quarter.
Maryland was able to take advantage of Michigan State’s poor offense and turned it into more possessions, and it helped the Terps attack in the other direction. It was evident that attacking the cage was on the Terrapins’ game plan as they continued their offensive aggression in the second quarter and consistently went directly towards the Spartans’ net.
With just a few minutes into the second quarter, Maryland midfielder Nathalie Fietcher delivered a nifty pass to defender Riley Donnelly to extend the Terps lead to 2-0. The second goal for Maryland was somewhat of a crushing blow to a Michigan State team that registered one lone shot attempt after the opening 30 minutes.
The Terps’ ability to earn several possessions in the first half helped Maryland earn five penalty corners in a dominant first-half of play for head coach Missy Meharg’s program. Maryland’s offensive prowess was extremely noticeable in the opening half and the team fired away at the Spartans’ goal a total of 15 times and managed to score twice to head into the second half up by two on the road.
Maryland’s strength in numbers is its greatest strength of its offensive attack and the beginning of the second half was no different from the previous 30 minutes.
With 12 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Mason the third goal of the day past Jardell extending Maryland’s advantage to 3-0.
However, despite extending their lead even further on the scoreboard, the Terps weren’t finished yet on the offensive end.
With just under 10 minutes in the third quarter, the Terps finally cashed in on their 10th penalty corner of the game.
Maryland defender Riley Donnelly received an in-bound pass from defender Maura Verleg, and shot a direct in-line shot that deflected off of Verleg’s stick to enter the right side of the cage to give the Terps the overwhelming 4-0 advantage.
From the initial whistle of the fourth quarter, Maryland kept its foot on the gas, with increased defensive pressure and penetration on the offensive end.
The Terps used a powerful combination of speed and timely defensive rotations to eventually hold the Spartans out of the cage to register their sixth shutout of the season in the form of a 4-0 victory on the road.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s offense was aggressive from the very beginning. The Terps earned 15 shots in the first half compared to Michigan State’s mere one shot. Maryland’s dynamic offense can showcase different scorers at any given moment with nifty goals from Lawn and Donnelly to put the Terps up by two in the first half. Maryland went on to score two more goals in the second half en route to the win. It was the first time Maryland scored at least four goals in a single game since Sept. 26.
2. The Terps defense was determined to suffocate the Spartans offensive attack, and succeeded. Maryland’s pressure and strong presence in the passing lanes allowed the Terps to force plenty of turnovers to get the ball back to their explosive offense. The Terps did not allow a single shot in the second half and imposed its will on the Spartans for the entire contest. Missy Meharg’s club played sound and fundamental defense and did not yield a single penalty corner to the Spartans. Michigan State averages 13.2 shots per game and the imposing Terrapins defense kept the Spartans well below their average in their dominating 4-0 shutout victory.
3. Maryland will immediately shift its focus to a top-10 matchup on Sunday. The Terps will have to process the victory quickly and set their attention to the end of their road trip in a Sunday matchup with the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines at 1 p.m. The Wolverines will be the second-highest ranked team on the Terps’ schedule and it will certainly be a difficult matchup coming at the tail end of the regular season. Maryland recently lost a close game to another talented Big Ten opponent in No. 1 Iowa, but this time around Maryland will look to outlast another top-10 team.