The No. 4 Maryland Terrapins conclude its two game road trip with a meeting on the road against the No. 2 Northwestern Wildcats on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Big Ten Plus.
Maryland (10-1) is coming off of a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over No. 3 Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa on Sept. 30. After being shutout in the first half, graduate midfielder Danielle Van Rootselaar scored two goals over the final three periods to give the Terps their signature victory of the season thus far.
Northwestern (10-1) is off to a hot start to the season after winning last year’s national championship for the first time in program history. The Wildcats defeated No. 6 Penn State, 5-4, in overtime on three unanswered goals by senior midfielder Peyton Halsey.
The Terps lead the all-time series with a 18-11 record, and a 5-3 record at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Illinois. Last season, Northwestern defeated Maryland at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park, 3-1.
Both teams secured narrow victories over opponents ranked in the top 10 and will look to add another Big Ten opponent to their impressive resumes.
Maryland will attempt to extend its win streak to four games, while Northwestern will look to pick up its second Big Ten victory of the season.
Now, let’s look at the Northwestern Wildcats.
Northwestern Wildcats (10-1)
2021 record: 18-5, 5-3 Big Ten
Northwestern is led by head coach Tracey Fuchs, who’s in her 14th season guiding the program. Under Fuchs’s leadership, the Wildcats have been a perennial powerhouse.
Fuchs has compiled a 176-94 record, highlighted by the program’s first national championship in 2021. She has led Northwestern to 13 winning seasons in her tenure with the Big Ten program.
Since her arrival at Northwestern, they have ranked within the top four in 11 of her 14 seasons on campus.
She joined fellow Big Ten rival Michigan as an assistant in 1996, a team that never made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In three seasons, Michigan not only made the tournament, it made an appearance in the national championship game. Fuchs was a key member of a coaching staff that led the Wolverines to a 2001 title.
Last season, she led Northwestern to its first national championship in program history, finally capturing a title at a location where she has enjoyed a great amount of success.
Players to know
Bente Baekers, graduate forward, No. 3 — Baekers leads the Big Ten with 17 goals on the season. She’s already on pace to surpass last year’s total of 18 goals. The 2021 All-Big Ten First Team honoree is Northwestern’s focal point on offense, as she looks to score early and often for her club. She is a quick athlete with sudden quickness who plays with aggression for all quarters. Baekers’ 66 shots are the runaway leader in their ultra competitive conference. The decorated Netherlands native puts massive pressure on defenses and identifying her whereabouts is paramount to thwarting their offensive attack. She recorded a pair of goals in Northwestern’s previous victory over No. 6 Ohio State.
Peyton Halsey, senior midfielder, No. 6 — The Pennsylvania native ranks second on the team with seven goals through 11 games this season. Her 32 shots are second on a talented Northwestern offense that was paramount to their title run last season. In Northwestern’s 5-4 victory over then No. 6 Penn State, Halsey recorded a hat trick to pick up their first conference win of the season. The midfielder has a knack for getting into the circle and attempting multiple shots at the cage.
Ana Medina Garcia, senior midfielder, No. 20 — Medina Garcia is an aggressive midfielder that uses her quickness to identify scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates. Her four goals are third on the team, while her 19 shots are sixth on her club. She scored the equalizer in Northwestern’s 5-4 victory over Penn on Sept. 16. The senior has chipped in three assists to add to Northwestern’s offense.
Goals. The Northwestern Wildcats look as formidable on offense as they did last year, when they won the national championship. Northwestern is sixth in the country with 3.4 goals per game. Nine members of the Wildcats’ roster has recorded a goal this season, showcasing depth and offensive versatility with their attack. With Baekers adding her Big Ten lead goals and shots, Northwestern will remain an offensive power in the country. Their 34 total goals are third in the country and figures to increase based on their personnel.
Shots percentage. Their offense is ranked amongst the best in the nation, with talented athletes featured on the roster. Northwestern has recorded a 16.4 shot percentage, which is alarming given their amount of shots generated per game. Their 21.6 shots has produced 3.5 goals a game, so increasing the efficiency with the categories is an area of concern for Northwestern.
Three things to watch
1. How will Maryland and Northwestern respond after two intense overtime victories on Sept. 30? The Terps did not dwell when they trailed No. 3 Iowa 1-0 late into the third quarter. Instead, they responded by scoring the equalizer on a penalty corner goal by graduate midfielder Danielle Van Rootselaar. Her goal sent the game into overtime. The Brown transfer proceeded to score the game winning goal in overtime on Maryland’s seventh penalty corner. Northwestern trailed No. 6 Penn State for the majority of the game, before graduate forward Bente Baekers scored two clutch four quarter goals to send the game into the next period to determine a winner. Baekers took advantage of a penalty stroke to give Northwestern the home victory. It will be interesting to see how both teams fare following two long overtime contests.
2. Is this a must win game for the Terps for their conference title hopes? Maryland is 4-0 in the Big Ten this season, with conference games starting to increase in importance during the month of October. With a victory over Northwestern, the Terps can take a stranglehold on the conference lead. Northwestern split its first two Big Ten matchups of the season and can begin to creep towards the top of the standings with a victory over Maryland. This game may serve as a litmus test for Maryland to see if they are ready to contend for a national title.
3. Who will ignite Maryland’s offense after Hope Rose’s status for Sunday is unknown?When Maryland picked up its largest victory of the season versus No. 3 Iowa, they did so without Hope Rose, its leader in goals this season with 10. Van Rootselaar’s two goals in the game were aggressive and were able to carry the Terps to their tenth victory of the season. Maryland has 12 members of their team that have scored a goal this season. The Terps are third in the country with 4.1 goals a game and their offensive talent has exhibited scoring explosions this season. A Maryland spokesperson told Testudo Times that there aren’t any updates on Hope Rose at this time and an update will be given at a later time. Maryland may have to weather a large offensive load without one of its key players.