The No. 3 Maryland Terrapins take on the New Hampshire Wildcats in the finale of the 22nd annual Terrapin Invitational in College Park.
Maryland (5-0) is coming off a 2-1 victory over Harvard on Sunday in a defensive battle between two top-15 clubs. Graduate midfielder Leah Crouse’s second goal of the contest would prove to be enough to maintain Maryland’s perfect record. Maryland’s defense continued its early dominance by holding Harvard scoreless in three of the four quarters.
New Hampshire (3-2) suffered a 2-0 loss to American in Friday’s second game at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex on the campus of the University of Maryland. The Wildcats mustered five shots at the cage but were unable to turn them into goals. They are on a two-game skid and will look to pull off a Sunday afternoon upset on the road.
The Terps are a perfect 7-0 versus New Hampshire and delivered a dominant 5-0 victory in their last meeting in 2019.
Maryland will look to sweep the Terrapin Invitational for the sixth consecutive season before conference play begins to ramp up in the coming weeks.
Now, let’s look at the New Hampshire Wildcats.
New Hampshire Wildcats (3-2)
2021 record: 7-12 (3-5 America East)
The Wildcats are led by head coach Robin Balducci in her 32nd season leading the America East club. Balducci is the program’s all-time leader in victories. She was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1998 for her athletic achievements as a member of the lacrosse team.
Under her leadership, New Hampshire has 24 playoff appearances along with four trips to the NCAA Tournament. She made history by becoming the first person to be named America East Coach of the Year in four consecutive seasons.
Balducci’s tutelage has produced 18 All-Americans and five first-team selections. The two-time Northeast Region Coach of the Year has enjoyed a decorated career at New Hampshire and established a winning culture for the program.
With Balducci’s experience, the Wildcats are a contender in the America East and a team capable of making a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Players to know
Tasmin Cookman, freshman forward, No. 13 — Cookman has jolted out to a fast start in her rookie season with three assists and a conference-leading five goals. The five-foot-two freshman has already established herself as a key contributor on a team looking to win its conference. She showed she can make critical plays, evidenced by her goal in the second half versus Quinnipiac to give New Hampshire a lead they would not relinquish. Cookman leads the squad with 15 shots and 13 points.
Leah Glidden, senior forward, No. 20 — Glidden followed up a one-goal season in 2021 with four goals and eight points thus far in her senior campaign. She recorded a pair of goals in New Hampshire’s 3-1 victory on Sept. 2. Glidden’s offense has been electric and adds another element to a team with offensive firepower. Her 11 shots rank second on the squad and give a glimpse of her ability to attack the cage.
Nicole Poulakis, freshman midfielder, No. 22 — The Ontario native is another member of a talented freshman class for New Hampshire, already recording three goals in her first season with the Wildcats. The aggressive midfielder added her third goal in New Hampshire’s narrow 4-3 loss to Massachusetts on Sept. 4. New Hampshire’s offense has become more explosive with Poulakis and Cookman’s early contributions.
Goals. New Hampshire’s offense has multiple players capable of pressuring opponents’ cage from different areas on the field. The Wildcats are tied for eighth in the country with 3.5 goals per game. Balducci’s offense has four players that have scored at least two goals, adding to its depth and ability to threaten defenses in transition. New Hampshire’s 13 shots per contest exhibit its athletes’ tenacity to consistently attack the net. Its offense has the ability to explode at any given moment and could be paramount in the direction of its season.
Allowing shots. The offense seems to be New Hampshire’s greatest strength, but the Wildcats struggle to prevent opponents from firing shots at the cage. Opponents are averaging 15 shots and two goals per game on the Wildcats. New Hampshire’s schedule features several offensive juggernauts and remains something to monitor going forward.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland move to 6-0 before hitting the road for their first conference tilt of the season? The Terps started the 2022 season fast, jumping out to a perfect 5-0 record before conference play begins. Three of their five victories came against opponents ranked in the top 20. Maryland’s defense has been playing lights out with outstanding hustle and defensive rotations. Maryland can separate themselves from its counterparts by continuing to rack up victories that will be critical down the stretch.
2. Which first-year Maryland player will make her mark? In the Terps’ 2-1 victory over Harvard, Duke transfer Leah Crouse’s pair of goals marked the eighth goal scored by a player not featured on last year’s roster. Maryland’s new additions have been instrumental in its hot start to the season. The Terps were already loaded with talented players on their roster, but the newcomers have added a welcome element to a club looking to contend for a national title. Their depth and ability to attack in multiple ways bodes well for their chances of winning critical games throughout the season.
3. Will the Terps generate more offense to produce a consistent number of goals? Maryland has played well on the defensive end for the first six games, but its offense has been its calling card under head coach Missy Meharg’s leadership. The Terps have scored seven goals in two separate games this season, showcasing their explosiveness. Maryland averages an impressive 19.8 shots per game, which produces four goals a clip. If Maryland can convert more shots into goals, it could be a difficult team to contend with as the games increase in their importance.