After a scoreless first quarter, with just under 12 minutes left in the second quarter, No. 4 Northwestern field hockey scored the first goal off the game against No. 7 Maryland with a two-on-one opportunity in transition.
The Wildcats’ Benet Baekers sprinted to the left side and delivered an amazing pass to a nearby Maddie Zimmer, who was able to sneak a shot past Maryland goalie Noelle Frost to give the Wildcats the 1-0 advantage.
Maryland’s offense in the first half was clearly struggling to get comfortable, as Northwestern’s defense smothered the Terps and intercepted the passing lanes to thwart any kinds of scoring chances for head coach Missy Meharg’s squad, ultimately leading to the 3-1 loss.
Maryland welcomed the Northwestern Wildcats to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park for a Big Ten matchup between two powerhouse programs.
Maryland and Northwestern used the first few minutes of the opening quarter as a feeling-out process to identify areas for their offenses to pinpoint scoring opportunities. Neither team was able to produce much in the opening frame.
After registering six goals in their two previous first quarters, Maryland’s offense was unable to get a quality look at the cage as Northwestern’s defense was fairly tight.
However, even as the Wildcats were solid on the defensive end in the first quarter, Maryland offered a stellar defense of its own and it only relinquished one shot to their opponent in the first 10 minutes of the match. Both teams headed into the first short break knotted at zero.
Maryland did have a quality opportunity to end the first quarter, though, as star freshman Hope Rose received a timely dish from midfielder Julianna Tornetta, then Rose fired one of her signature shots towards the cage, only for it to be denied by Northwestern’s goalie to keep things scoreless.
Maryland wasn’t able to keep Northwestern off the board for long as the Wildcats scored within the first three minutes of the second half.
Maryland forward Margot Lawn had one of the program’s best chances of the half soon after the Wildcats’ initial goal. Lawn was harassed down the sideline, as she dribbled the ball down the sideline trying to tie the score, however, her eventual shot sailed wide right.
The Terps are known for their depth, aggressiveness, and attacking ability, however, that’s not what the program presented much of after 20 minutes. At halftime, Maryland had only registered an uncharacteristic five shots at the goal en route to a one-goal deficit, while Northwestern recorded seven shots
Maryland’s start to the third quarter was much of the same from the first half of play. Maryland defender Maura Verleg was a bright spot at the beginning of the third frame as she made some athletic defensive plays, forcing two turnovers within four minutes into the second half. Verleg constantly stole the ball from her opponents and got the ball back to the Terps offense.
Despite Verleg’s defensive efforts, the Terps primarily struggled to get in transition and allow their athletes to make plays at the cage. Northwestern’s defense was stout all game, and even with attempted adjustments after halftime, the Wildcats’ defensive scheme still had Maryland’s number.
Then with just under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter, Maryland goalie Noelle Frost offered a strong effort to keep the Terps in the game, as she rejected Northwestern’s Maren Seidel’s winding shot at the cage.
But even as Frost did a good job keeping Maryland within striking distance, Northwestern wouldn’t be silenced for long.
Northwestern made Maryland pay with under three minutes left in the third quarter after forward Clara Roth scored a goal after Maryland made a blunder near the front of the net. Northwestern went on to extend its lead to a 2-0 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Maryland had several opportunities to get on the board, but their shots were narrowly missing the cage.
With a little over 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Baekers made a miraculous play, as she maneuvered her way to a scoring position to deliver a complete strike to the cage, to put the Wildcats up a resounding score of 3-0.
Maryland struggled throughout the contest to establish any offense for a group that is loaded on that side of the ball.
With under a minute left in the contest, Rose got the Terps on the board with a powerful shot that swished into the left side of the Wildcats cage. However, it was too little too late as Maryland eventually fell 3-1 at home.
Three things to know
1. Maryland’s offense started slow and stayed that way. The Terps have had great success this season when they are getting countless attempts at the cage and allowing their athletes to make brilliant plays all over the field. Through three quarters, though, Maryland recorded a mere seven shots and in the final frame recorded just four.
2. Northwestern’s defense was stifling. Coming into this matchup, the Terps were averaging 17.8 shots per game and 3.67 goals. However, in this game, the Wildcats defense did not allow Maryland to breakthrough. The Terps had just one goal on 13 shots, nine of those coming on goal. Maryland also had four corner opportunities that it was not able to capitalize on. Although the Terps outshot the Wildcats 13-10, they could not break through early on leading to the loss.
3. The Terps drop to 7-3 on the season. Maryland lost its second conference game of the season in Thursday’s loss to Northwestern. The Terps can not dwell on the loss for long, as they will welcome the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes to College Park on Sunday for a matinee matchup.