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No. 3-seed Maryland field hockey falls in Final Four to No. 2-seed Northwestern, 2-1

The Terps lost in the Final Four for the second consecutive season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Heading into the fourth quarter, No. 3-seed Maryland field hockey saw itself in a nail-biter with No. 2-seed Northwestern in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Two minutes into the quarter, the Wildcats were awarded a penalty corner.

Northwestern fifth year forward Bente Baekers sent a booming shot that found the back of the net, putting Northwestern ahead 1-0. The Wildcats added one more before the Terps got on the board, sealing their fate in a 2-1 defeat in Storrs, Connecticut, on Friday afternoon.

This is the second consecutive year Maryland’s season ended in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Last year, it was a loss to Liberty that sent the Terps packing.

“We’re disappointed for our team. [We] had such a phenomenal season and I personally think we played our strongest hockey recently,” Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my team.”

On Friday, Maryland controlled the tempo early, moving the ball around with quick passes and trying to bait Northwestern to create scoring opportunities.

Halfway through the quarter, the Wildcats started to find their legs, testing senior goalie Christina Calandra early off a Northwestern penalty corner.

The first quarter experienced chippy play from both teams with emotions running high in the semifinal matchup.

The Maryland defense stood strong after facing three shots in the first quarter.

With seven minutes left in the second quarter, Maryland earned its first penalty corner. The Northwestern defense stood tall as the Terps were unable to get a shot on goal.

Neither team was able to take advantage of their penalty corners in the first half, experiencing miscommunications on their combined four attempts.

Calandra recorded two saves in the first half to keep Northwestern off the board.

Defense continued to be the subject of the first half as Maryland could not get its firepower offense rolling entering the intermission with no score.

Maryland applied the pressure early to start the second half with a rocket of a backhand from graduate midfielder Dani Van Rootselaar but was unable to find the net. Van Rootselaar was all over the field for the Terps, coming up with key defensive stops and offensive pressure.

Sophomore forward Hope Rose was assessed with a green card with seven minutes left to play in the third. Despite the man advantage for Northwestern, the Maryland defense battened down the hatches to kill off the card.

With two minutes left in the third, Rose earned the second penalty corner for Maryland. The Terps were able to force three shots, but Northwestern junior goalie Annabel Skubisz made three spectacular saves keeping the game scoreless.

With seconds left in the third quarter, Northwestern junior midfielder Chloe Relford was given a green card to give the Terps a two-minute advantage that carried into the fourth quarter.

Two minutes into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats earned their fourth penalty corner of the game. Baekers sent a booming shot that found the back of the net, putting Northwestern ahead 1-0.

With six minutes to play, Northwestern junior midfielder Maddie Zimmer was sprinting down the center of the field. Zimmer ripped a shot from the top of the circle, but Calandra made a spectacular save to keep Maryland in the game.

With two minutes left in the game, junior midfielder Chloe Relford found an empty Maryland net, which seemed like the nail in the coffin for the Terps.

But Maryland did not quit as senior midfielder Emma DeBerdine responded immediately, putting the Terps on the board with a minute to play.

In the final 30 seconds of the game, Maryland was awarded two penalty corners but could not find the equalizer, falling 2-1.

Three things to know

1. Maryland couldn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities. Maryland outshot the Wildcats in total shots and shots on goal but did not hold a lead at any point of the game. Maryland also earned five penalty corners and failed to take advantage, going 0-for-5.

2.Northwestern is headed to back-to-back national championship games. The Wildcats will look to win back-to-back titles for the first time in program history. It would be the first repeat since North Carolina’s 3-peat from 2018-2020. Northwestern will face off against North Carolina on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 1:30 p.m.

3.Maryland was knocked out in the Final Four for the second year in a row. In 2021, the Liberty Flames ended the Terps’ season in the national semifinal. In 2022, it was the Northwestern Wildcats. Maryland hoped to reach its first national championship game since 2018 but fell just short for the second year in a row.