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No. 7 Maryland field hockey vs. No. 4 Northwestern preview

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The Terps enter the top-10 showdown with a 7-2 overall record.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

The No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats make their way to College Park to take on the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins in a Big Ten showdown at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.

Maryland (7-2) is currently on a three-game winning streak and scored a combined 16 goals in those contests. The Terps registered their fourth shutout on Sunday in a dominating 4-0 victory over American.

Maryland’s defense and offensive depth have led them to force timely turnovers, to allow their athletes to get in transition and put pressure on their opponents’ goalie.

Maryland and Northwestern are not just two of the top teams in the Big Ten, these teams are legitimate championship contenders this season due to the versatility and problems they present for their opponents.

This game features two elite teams vying to rocket up the standings and establish themselves as a force with a big victory on Thursday.

The game begins at 6 p.m. and can be watched on BTN+.

Now let’s look at the No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats.

Northwestern Wildcats (8-2, 0-1)

2020 record: 12-6 (5-3 Big Ten)

The Wildcats are led by their head coach Tracey Fuchs, who’s returning for her 11th season at the helm of the successful field hockey program. In Fuchs’s remarkable career, she has amassed a 146-83 record and has led Northwestern to two Big Ten Titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances.

The 2014 USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinee Fuchs has achieved the mountain top in field hockey, as a coach and a player.

Fuchs won a national championship as a player in 1985 as a player for the University of Connecticut, then secured a championship as an assistant coach for the University of Michigan in 1996. The coach is known for her in-game adjustments and has consistently guided Northwestern to new heights of success.

Northwestern (8-2) is coming off a 2-1 loss on Friday to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, after previously winning five consecutive games. The Wildcats are one of the most complete teams in the country, possessing an electric offense and stifling defense.

Players to know

Bente Baekers, junior forward, No. 3 — Baekers returns for her junior campaign, as the leader in goals for Northwestern, registering eight goals this season. The scoring machine led the Wildcats in goals last season, recording 15 goals in the unprecedented 2020 season. Baekers registered one goal and one assist in the two-game sweep of Maryland last season.

Maren Seidel, senior midfielder, No. 7 —The midfielder from Germany comes into this matchup, recording seven goals over Northwestern’s 10 games. Seidel is aggressive and will look for multiple ways to score, as she has recorded an impressive 24 shots thus far. The talented midfielder has a strong 75% shot on goal percentage that speaks volumes to Seidel’s effectiveness for her club.

Clara Roth, graduate forward, No. 28 —Roth has logged the third-most minutes on the season, with an impressive 255 minutes on the season. The former Princeton Tiger has recorded six goals on the season and an impressive 21 shots for Northwestern this season. The do-it-all graduate has contributed four assists in her final campaign for the Wildcats, to add to their offensive potency.

Strength

Scoring/Defense. Northwestern has been scoring in bunches all season, as it has recorded an outstanding 42 goals. The Wildcats are averaging an impressive 18 shots per game and are presenting an abundance of problems for the opposing defenses. The Northwestern defense has been stifling their opponents, only relinquishing a mere 12 goals this season.

Weakness

Solving other top 10 opponents. If there’s one area to point to when looking at an incredibly strong Northwestern program, it’s that the team’s two losses both came from top 10 teams. The Wildcats lost to both then-No. 7 Boston College and then-No. 10 Rutgers. Northwestern is a very solid team, but its tendency to play close games against the other top teams in the nation is something to look out for.

Three things to watch

1. How will Maryland’s defense handle Northwestern’s offensive firepower? Maryland’s defense has been outstanding the past three games with their pressure and ability to force turnovers. Northwestern possesses problems that are difficult to prepare for and Maryland’s defense must sustain pressure to secure the victory.

2. Can Maryland’s offense put pressure on Northwestern’s defense? Maryland has several outstanding athletes that can get in transition and light up its opponents' cage with an abundance of goals. The Terps are dangerous because they can receive contributions from everyone on their roster as 13 different players have scored at least one goal this season.

3. Can Hope Rose build on her latest hot streak? Freshman forward Hope was recently announced as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, as she recorded three goals and one assist in the Terps three-game winning streak. The immensely talented freshman has been making highlight plays and sprinting in transition to generate offensive efficiency for her club. Rose has showcased why she was one of head coach Missy Meharg’s recruiting class and she will look to extend her recent dominance at home versus Northwestern.