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No. 2 Maryland field hockey vs. No. 20 Rutgers preview

The Terps enter a ranked matchup on a six-game winning streak.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 2 Maryland field hockey brings its six-game winning streak into a Big Ten clash with No. 20 Rutgers on Sunday. The game marks the end of a three-game home stand at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park. Game time is set for 4 p.m. and the matchup can be viewed on Big Ten Network.

The Terps (13-1) are fresh off an offensive explosion versus Georgetown with a season-high 11 goals on Oct. 11. Maryland’s defense pitched its third shutout of the season, while not relinquishing a single shot or penalty corner. During the team’s win streak, it has dominated the opposition with a lopsided 27-5 scoring margin. With a perfect 6-0 record in conference play, the Terps can begin to set their sights on clinching the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

Rutgers (7-6) are coming off its biggest victory of the season with a 2-1 home victory over then-No. 3 Northwestern on Oct. 8. The Scarlet Knights evened their conference record and went above .500 overall with four games remaining in the season. They are currently fourth in the Big Ten and one game out of third place.

Maryland will look to remain unbeaten in Big Ten play, while Rutgers will look to pull off the upset on the road.

The Terps hold a 16-1 all-time series lead over their Big Ten foe. Last season, Rutgers defeated Maryland at Bauer Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey by a score of 1-0. These two teams have been frequent opponents since Maryland jettisoned the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014.

Now let’s look at the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-6)

2021 record: 19-4 (6-2 Big Ten)

Rutgers is led by head coach Meredith Civico, who’s in her 11th season leading the program. She currently has a 110-87 record, with nine seasons of at least nine wins.

She has led the Scarlet Knights to two NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by their first trip in 32 years during the 2018 season.

Last season, Civico was named the Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year after guiding Rutgers to a school record 19-4 record in the regular season. Four of the nine wins came against ranked opponents, with two victories coming against No. 4 Northwestern.

2021 was a year filled with success for Rutgers, as it won the Big Ten Tournament Championship for the first time in school history. As a result of its successful season, it received a No. 1 seed heading into the NCAA Tournament and made an appearance in the Elite Eight.

Civico has proven she can lead Rutgers to unprecedented success and will look to take the next step in the program’s quest for a national championship.

Players to know

Iris Langejans, redshirt junior back, No. 34 — On Oct. 10, Langejans was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. She is a quick athlete with a knack for making plays when the game is on the line. The Netherlands native converted a penalty stroke into the game-winning goal in Rutgers’ 2-1 upset victory over Northwestern. Langejans is tied for the team lead with three goals, including the deciding goal in Rutgers’ 3-2 overtime victory over Michigan State on Sept. 16. The junior leads the team with four assists, showcasing her ability to find her teammates for scoring opportunities at the cage.

Marique Dieudonne, graduate midfielder, No. 7 — Dieudonne has appeared in 13 games this season and tied for the team lead with 23 shots. In Rutgers’ 1-0 double-overtime victory over then-No. 25 Monmouth, she recorded the game-winning goal to secure the team’s third win of the season. She’s currently in a four-way tie for the lead in goals with three and has chipped in 13 shots on goal. Dieudonne uses quickness and tenacity to fire multiple shots at the opposing cage.

Puck Winter, redshirt freshman back, No. 21 — The talented freshman has started every game in her debut season for Rutgers while ranking second in the Big Ten with 0.29 defensive saves per game. Winter has quickly established herself as a key contributor to Rutgers for years to come. Her 829 minutes played lead the team and shows her ability to contribute in her first season on campus. She has shown that she will be a player to follow in the Big Ten.

Strength

Shots on goal. Rutgers has been efficient in getting shots on goal, putting 59.1% of its shots on the cage on the season. While the Scarlet Knights struggle with generating a high number of goals, Rutgers has been continuing to attack opposing defenses to ignite its offense. In four of the team’s victories, it has recorded a minimum of 10 shots on goal. The offense will look to build off last week’s victory with another solid performance on the road versus the Terps.

Weakness

Goals. Rutgers is last in the Big Ten with 1.42 goals per game. In all of the Scarlet Knights’ losses this season, they’ve scored one goal or less, displaying their inability to score in bunches. The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in the country, with several programs possessing talented offensive units. Scoring in conference play is crucial to securing victories throughout the season and the Scarlet Knights have struggled to do that at a high rate. If they can turn their 12.5 shots per game into more goals scored, Rutgers can make noise heading into the final stretch of the season.

Three things to watch

1. Can the Terps extend their win streak to seven games? Maryland enters the game on a six-game winning streak, highlighted by victories over Northwestern and Michigan. The Terps are a perfect 9-0 this season at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park. With a victory over Rutgers, the Terps can improve their 7-0 in Big Ten play. Maryland is averaging 4.6 goals and 25.5 shots during their six-game winning streak. With postseason play rapidly approaching, the Terps can begin to lock up the top seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.

2. Will Maryland’s defense continue to suffocate opponents’ offensive attacks? In the Terps’ past two games, their defense has stifled opposing offenses to a combined two shots and three penalty corners. Currently, Maryland is fourth in the Big Ten with 1.2 goals allowed per game. The team’s tandem of interchangeable goalkeepers — Christina Calandra and Paige Kieft — protect the net at a high rate and have been instrumental in Maryland’s defensive prowess this season, which has been its linchpin. That side of the ball should play a role in the outcome of its season.

3. After exploding for 11 goals in their previous victory over Georgetown, what will the Terps do for an encore? On Oct. 11, Maryland’s offense lit up the scoreboard with 11 goals in a dominant victory over Georgetown. Seven different Terps registered a goal in their offensive explosion, highlighted by graduate defender Riley Donnelly scoring two of her three goals on penalty strokes. Maryland has played the past four games without star sophomore forward Hope Rose, as she is nursing a lower body injury; she is seventh in the Big Ten with 10 goals and is a key piece of an electric Maryland offense. But, the Terps are loaded with depth to pick up the scoring load with one of their key contributors missing time.