With the game even at three, No. 2 Maryland field hockey looked for the game-winning goal in an eventful fourth quarter between the Terps and No. 20 Rutgers in College Park.
Her back turned, Maryland graduate midfielder Bibi Donraadt used a hesitation move to force Indiana redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sophia Howard out of position. Once Donraadt realized she had leverage, she fired the game-winning goal into the cage.
The veteran’s score gave Maryland the 4-3 victory over Rutgers. With three games remaining in the season, the Terps clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title — the 15th regular season conference championship in program history and sixth since joining the Big Ten.
The Sunday afternoon matchup began with speed taking center stage. Maryland and Rutgers attempted to get the ball on the edges for their ultra-aggressive athletes to generate offense.
Rutgers seemed determined to be aggressive on the offensive end, as it was consistently maneuvering its way into the circle for scoring opportunities.
Just more than four minutes into the first quarter, the Scarlet Knights’ persistence would generate the first penalty corner of the game. Rutgers graduate midfielder Marique Dieudonne planted her feet before sending a winding shot that narrowly missed the outstretched hands of Maryland sophomore goalie Paige Kieft. Dieudonne’s goal gave Rutgers an early 1-0 lead.
Rutgers’ defense held Maryland out of the cage on several occasions, with Howard using her entire body to swat shots away from her cage.
Early in the second quarter, Maryland senior defender Maura Verleg delivered a quick pass to graduate midfielder Bibi Donraadt on the left side of the cage. Donraadt attempted to fire the shot immediately into the cage, but Howard – out of position – used her right arm to thwart the shot away.
After one goal was scored in the opening quarter, defense continued to reign. Heading into intermission, both teams combined for nine shots and five penalty corners. Despite going to the locker room on the wrong side of a 1-0 ballgame, the Terps had been filling up the stat sheet and did not allow a single Rutgers corner nor shot in the second quarter.
To begin the second half, the Terps looked to turn their offense into goals to get back into a game that was within reach.
Maryland graduate defender Riley Donnelly used nifty stick skills to deliver a quick pass to senior forward Margot Lawn. The pass found Lawn in front of the cage, before she sent the equalizer into the net for a goal. Lawn’s goal evened the game at one apiece heading into the fourth quarter.
With the game even at one apiece, the Terps constantly searched for the go-ahead goal. Their aggressiveness earned its 10th penalty corner, one that would strike gold for the Terps.
With more than 11 minutes remaining in regulation, graduate midfielder Leah Crouse dribbled the ball to her left before sending a thunderous goal into the cage. Crouse’s goal gave Maryland the 2-1 advantage.
The Terps didn’t rest on their laurels.
With under five minutes remaining in the final frame, Maryland received another penalty corner with a chance to extend its lead. Maryland graduate midfielder Danielle Van Rootselaar sent a strong shot ricocheting in the air, only for graduate midfielder Bibi Donraadt to coral the ball into the cage for another goal. Donraadt’s goal provides Maryland with a 3-1 lead heading toward the final minutes of the contest.
Facing a nearly insurmountable gap late, Rutgers didn’t blink. Almost a minute after Maryland’s goal, Rutgers was quickly on the hunt for goals of its own to even the score.
Rutgers redshirt freshman Indy Van Ek fired a looping shot into the cage to cut Maryland’s lead to 3-2 with fewer than four minutes to go.
The Scarlet Knights still did not let up, amazingly scoring the equalizer about two minutes later. Senior forward Rachel Houston found the back of the net, and the game was suddenly even once again.
Having allowed two goals and seeing its lead disappear in just minutes, the Terps showed resilience by keeping the pressure on and eventually scoring the game-winner. Sunday marked the fifth time this season that Maryland has come from behind to win a game this season.
Next, Maryland will hit the road for a Friday night matchup with No. 4 Penn State at 6 p.m. on Big Ten Plus.
Three things to know
1. Maryland clinched a share of the Big Ten regular season title. The Terps have lived up to their motto of being “the best of the best” all season long, and Sunday’s conference-clinching victory validated that. Faced with adversity multiple times — especially with the 1-0 deficit and the late 3-3 tie — Maryland did not fret and closed out the win in a classic. The Terps are now 14-1 and have yet to lose a Big Ten game as the regular season nears its close.
2. After a scoring explosion in its previous victory, Maryland was unable to establish a rhythm on offense until the second half. The Terps registered 11 goals in their previous victory over Georgetown, which marked the program’s largest margin of victory since 1999. Maryland’s 41 shots were evidence of its aggressiveness on the offensive end. The first half versus Rutgers was a completely different situation, as the Terps struggled to muster any tangible output in the first half, failing to capitalize on their four penalty corners. Maryland’s offense is lauded for its depth and explosiveness, so it is worth monitoring when it experiences struggles. The struggles didn’t last long, though, as a four-goal explosion in the second half lifted the Terps to another ranked triumph.
3. The Terps played another late season game without two of their stars. Maryland is in first place in the Big Ten with a 7-0 conference record and looks to continue playing its best hockey with the Big Ten Tournament rapidly approaching. The Terps played their fourth consecutive game without star sophomore forward Hope Rose, as she continues to nurse a lower body injury. But on a day to honor Maryland’s senior class, midfielder Emma DeBerdine did not appear in Sunday afternoon’s clash with an unknown injury. With three games remaining in the season, Maryland will hope to be at full strength heading into the postseason.