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No. 3 Maryland field hockey defeats No. 12 Harvard, 2-1, in first game of Terrapin Invitational

The Terps are now 5-0 on the season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Tied at one, No. 3 Maryland field hockey started the third quarter with an emphasis to convert more shots into goals. With fewer than three minutes left in the third frame, Graduate midfielder Leah Crouse used a nifty spin to create separation and send a thunderous goal into the right side of the cage. Crouse’s second goal of the game gave Maryland a 2-1 advantage heading into the final quarter of play, a lead they would hold on to for the remaining 15 minutes of play.

The Terps defeated their third ranked opponent of the season Friday, beating No. 12 Harvard, 2-1, in the first game of the Terrapin Invitational at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex in College Park.

The game began with Harvard looking to apply maximum defensive pressure on the Terps. The Crimson seemed determined to force Maryland to be patient and identify holes in the defense for scoring opportunities.

Maryland attempted to pass the ball around the perimeter to find a crease to exploit, but Harvard’s defense rotated cohesively to thwart any goals from entering the cage.

The first quarter was a defensive battle between two top-15 teams, as just two total shots were recorded after the first 15 minutes.

Harvard’s defense was able to limit the Terps’ effectiveness in the first frame but looked to generate offense in the following quarters, ending their cold streak with under 10 minutes left until halftime. The Crimson were awarded a penalty corner, but Maryland freshman midfielder Ericka Morris-Adams blocked their shot. The block was deemed a foul, which warranted another penalty corner.

On the second opportunity, Harvard junior midfielder Siofra Murdoch sent a straight-line rocket that entered the right side of the cage to give the Crimson a 1-0 lead.

“I think what I like in terms of responding is that we don’t get panicked,” Meharg said. “I can sense that our three marquee [backfielders] and then [Maura Verleg] is key in the middle there. They’re pretty consistent and they don’t get rattled.”

The Terps wouldn’t wait long to respond with a chance of their own, though. Crouse corralled a loose ball, then maneuvered closer to the net for a wide shot that narrowly missed the outstretched hands of Harvard senior goalie Ellie Shahbo, evening the game at one.

“I think we’ve got four or five women who are brand new to the lineup, right and that’s the pulse of the landscape of the NCAA and Power Five is today,” Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. “[Leah] also has got a lot of playing time internationally for the US team and she likes pressure and I’m not surprised it fell our way.”

The deadlock would not last too long, however.

Crouse’s third-quarter heroics proved to be the game’s final tally, lifting the Terps to yet another resume-building victory. Several Terps have shown they are capable of leading the team to a significant win, showing qualities of what it takes to be a contender time and time again.

Maryland plays its second of two games in the Terrapin Invitational on Sunday, when it faces off against New Hampshire at 2 p.m.

Three things to know

1. Maryland’s defense continues to stake its claim as one of the best in the nation. Harvard’s second-quarter goal was just the fourth scored on the Terps this season. With graduate goalkeeper Christina Calandra leading the charge, opponents are experiencing difficulty generating multiple shots at the cage. In the past eight quarters, Maryland has only allowed three goals. The Terps’ offense has sprinkled in occasional games of offensive explosions, but their defense has become a staple through the first five games.

2. The Terps’ new additions to this year’s squad add a different element to a team that hopes to contend for a Big Ten title. Maryland faced a large roster turnaround in the offseason and several players were thrusted into key roles for a team competing for a national title, but the Terps have enjoyed great success through five games with the newcomers’ contributions. Crouse’s two goals scored were the seventh and eighth by a player not featured on last year’s roster. Freshman midfielder Sophie Klautz has also recorded two goals in her debut season for the Terps, adding depth and explosiveness to an offense that was among the best in the country last season.

3. Maryland moves to 5-0 and will look to sweep the Terrapin Invitational on Sunday for the sixth consecutive season. The Terps are off to a tremendous start, one that can improve in two days against New Hampshire. The Wildcats are 3-1 with a chance to build on that with Friday’s nightcap against American at “The Plex.” Maryland has been dominant at the Terrapin Invitational in recent years, and they are looking to continue that this weekend.