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No. 7 Maryland field hockey vs. No. 15 Virginia Cavaliers preview

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The Terps are looking to snap their two-game losing streak.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

The No. 7 Maryland Terrapins hit the road for a ranked matchup with the No. 15 Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Maryland (7-4) is looking to end their recent skid with a quality victory over a top-25 opponent in Virginia. Head coach Missy Meharg’s club will look to get back to its winning ways with its speed on defense and outstanding athleticism on the offensive end.

Virginia (7-3) is currently ranked third in the ACC and coming off a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory versus Duke.

Maryland is ranked seventh in the Big Ten, with a 1-3 record in conference play. The Terps are currently on a two-game losing streak, after dropping games to then-No. 6 Northwestern on Sept. 30 and then-No. 1 Iowa on Oct. 3.

The last time the Cavaliers and Terps met was in a 2019 shootout with Maryland winning, 3-2.

The game is set to start at 4 p.m. and will air on ACC Network. Now let’s look at the Virginia Cavaliers.

Virginia Cavaliers: (7-3, 2-1 ACC)

2020 record: (7-11, 4-7 ACC)

The Virginia Cavaliers are led by their head coach Michele Madison, who’s returning for her 16th season as the unquestioned leader of the field hockey program. Madison has enjoyed great success during her tenure at Virginia, amassing an impressive 207-112 record.

The National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame member has led the Cavaliers to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, three NCAA Championship appearances and the program’s first ACC title in 2016. Madison was also named the 2017 ACC Field Hockey Coach of the Year, after leading Virginia to the regular-season conference title.

Under Madison’s leadership, Virginia has been annually ranked in the top-25 since 2012. Her rosters are normally known for their talent, cohesiveness, and their ability to be a force within the NCAA and ACC.

This season, the Cavaliers have dropped games to Penn State, Lousiville and most recently Old Dominion on Sept. 26.

Players to know

Amber Ezechiels, senior back, No. 19 — The Netherlands native currently leads the Cavaliers in goals this season, registering five goals early in her senior campaign. Ezechiels was named the ACC Player of the Week on Tuesday after recording two goals in Virginia’s 3-2 victory over Duke. The senior also leads the Cavaliers in shots with a riveting 32 attempts.

Peyton Tollaksen, senior striker, No. 21 — The Chesapeake, Virginia native has appeared in all 10 games this season and ranks second on her club in goals scored with a respective four goals to her name. Tollaksen has an impressive 71.4 shot-on-goals percentage on the season.

Adele Iacobucci, junior midfielder, No. 13 — Iacobucci is an aggressive player for the Cavaliers, known for her aggressiveness and assertiveness. The talented junior has recorded three goals this season. The 5 foot-8 inch midfielder has also contributed a lone assist and seven shots-on-goals this season.

Strength

Shots. The Cavaliers have been outstanding in generating shots at the goal, averaging 18.1 shots per contest this season. In a 3-0 victory versus Towson on Sept. 5, the Cavaliers recorded an astonishing 29 shots. Virginia has a knack for getting shots on net, and their offense is one that Maryland is going to have a difficult time stopping.

Weakness

One-goal games. Virginia will exhibit a very strong team when Maryland travels to Charlottesville on Thursday. However, in all three of the program’s losses this year, there is a trend that Maryland can use to its advantage. Virginia’s losses to Penn State, Louisville and Old Dominion all came by just one goal. When the game is tight, there are times when the Cavaliers struggle. If Maryland can play a tight defensive game and force it to be a close contest late, then it may have a slight advantage over Virginia in that case.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland end its two-game skid? Maryland is hoping to secure a victory after dropping two consecutive games to two national championship contenders in the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes and No. 7 Northwestern Wildcats. The Terps are facing their third consecutive top-20 opponent and will look to pick up a much-needed road victory.

2. Will the Terps continue their dominance on the road? Maryland is currently 3-0 away from College Park this season, picking up victories over then-No. 12 Duke, No. 21 UMass, and Indiana. The Terps have recorded a whopping 16 combined shots in their road games this season, showcasing their electric offense.

3. Can Maryland’s electric offense find its rhythm? After recording 12 goals in two games versus Indiana and American, the Terps have only managed to register a mere two goals in their previous two contests. The athleticism Maryland possess is one of the most dynamic elements of the Terps attack. They’ll look to find a groove on offense when they face the Cavaliers on the road come Thursday.