With just under six and a half minutes remaining in a scoreless overtime battle, No. 3 Maryland field hockey received a penalty corner with a chance to score the game-winning goal against No. 8 Michigan in front of a raucous crowd at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park on a chilly Friday night.
The Terps did just that, as graduate midfielder Leah Crouse dished the ball to graduate midfielder Danielle Van Rootselaar. The latter fired a shot that was ceremoniously sent back, before Crouse corralled the rebound and scored the game winning goal to allow the Terps to escape with a 1-0 victory over Michigan in a defensive battle.
“In the corner, it was my decision to take the shot or give a pass,” Crouse said. “And based on how their fly was running out of the cage, I thought it was best to pass it to Dani [Van Rootselaar] and [she] shot it and I was there for the rebound.”
The game started with both teams urgently sprinting up and down the field, searching for the opening goal in a top-10 matchup of Big Ten foes.
Maryland’s offense used the majority of the first quarter passing the ball around the perimeter — looking for a hole in Michigan’s defense to exploit — but was unable to produce any goals.
“So you have to be able to withstand it and stay in it and get into an overtime situation,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “And coming out on top is just a testament to really well, tactically defensive, tactically prepared teams.”
While Michigan attacked the Maryland defense on the edges, it was consistently met by waiting defenders looking to negate any favorable looks at the net.
Friday marked the third consecutive game the Terps have failed to score a goal in the opening quarter.
The second quarter would remain a defensive battle, as both teams entered halftime with zero goals scored and five combined shots.
Offense remained nonexistent coming out of intermission, as Maryland and Michigan continued to struggle to yield any goals despite firing shots from favorable scoring positions.
Midway through the third quarter, the Terps earned a penalty corner with a chance to finally get on the board. Senior defender Maura Verleg winded up and sent a shot that sailed away from the cage.
With fewer than seven minutes in the final frame, Maryland was assessed a penalty corner, with another chance to take advantage of a scoring opportunity.
Looking to be the hero, Van Rootselaar planted her feet before firing a rocket towards the cage. Her shot was deflected before entering the vicinity of Michigan senior goalie Anna Spieker.
The game was not decided in regulation and headed to overtime with the score knotted at zero. However, it was Crouse’s shot that gave Maryland the win in a competitive battle between two national championship contenders.
The Terps finish their two-game homestand this Sunday against Michigan State.
Three things to know
1. Defense stole the show in a battle between two of the Big Ten’s elite. It was a defensive battle all evening in College Park, as both teams struggled to find the back of the cage. It took more than 60 minutes of regulation before Maryland scored the first goal of the game. Although Maryland took 14 shots, only four were on goal, thanks to a stout Wolverine defense.
2. Maryland’s offense struggled to produce goals for five-plus quarters but broke its drought in overtime. In Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout road loss to No. 7 Princeton, Maryland was held scoreless for the first overtime period and change. The same was the case Friday, despite the Terps rattling off 11 shots in regulation. Fortunately for Maryland, Crouse’s heroics saved the day. This team is far too gifted for the lack of scoring to continue, though the period without goals is definitely noteworthy.
3. The Terps went to overtime for the second consecutive game. For the second time in as many games, Maryland was unable to secure a result in regulation. On Tuesday against No. 7 Princeton, the Terps came up short, falling in the extra period. Friday was a different story, however, as the first and final goal of the game was an overtime winner for head coach Missy Meharg’s squad, which remained undefeated in the Big Ten and moved to 8-1 overall.