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Maryland field hockey begins Big Ten Tournament run with 2-0 victory over Iowa

Maryland rode its defense to its eighth semifinal appearance in 10 seasons.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland field hockey freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Klebasko was subject to a barrage of shots in its last match at top-ranked Northwestern.

The Terps made things much easier for Klebasko on Thursday, riding their defense to a 2-0 win over No. 6-seed Iowa in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Klebasko had to make just two saves for Maryland (15-4), her lowest total in a full game this season. Goals from Hope Rose and Sammy Popper helped on the offensive end.

“Our defense one-on-one was absolutely relentless,” Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. “What makes a good backfield defense is the [midfielders] and the forwards putting pressure on the ball, and I thought we did a good job of that to help [Klebasko].”

Following a feeling-out process in the first quarter, Maryland netted an impressive goal halfway through the second.

Facing pressure, freshman Maci Bradford knocked a backhand shot from atop the shooting circle. Positioned at the left post, Rose put her stick out in front for a between-the-legs deflection past Iowa sophomore goalkeeper Mia Magnotta. The trick shot was Rose’s 13th goal this season, the fourth-most in the Big Ten.

“Her getting back on the board with goals is super important,” Meharg said. “... we were flying and she was going back and forth.”

Rose’s goal was the only first-half score, with Maryland shutting down the Hawkeyes’ attack. The Terps did not allow Iowa to get a shot off in the opening 13 minutes and carried that pressure into the second quarter. Maryland outshot the Hawkeyes 5-1 in the period and held an 8-2 overall shots advantage going into the break.

The shooting advantage continued for the Terps in the second half. Maryland had five more shots than Iowa in the third quarter, playing strong in front of Klebasko. After Klebasko folded against Northwestern, the freshman was called upon to make just one save through the opening 45 minutes. Midway through the third quarter, Maryland gave her more goal support.

Maneuvering through Iowa’s defense, Popper dribbled down the right wing, making three separate crossovers before launching a cross-field shot past Magnotta into the goal. Popper, who also scored early in the Terps’ 4-1 win over Iowa during the regular season, now has eight goals in 2023.

As the No. 3 seed, Maryland advanced to the tournament’s semifinals and will play No. 2-seed Rutgers tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. The Scarlet Knights are the No. 5-ranked team in the country and took down Michigan, the host school, in the first round, 1-0, on a last-minute goal.

Three things to know

1. Rose was ready for the moment. Although Rose leads the Terps with 13 goals this season, the unanimous All-Big Ten first teamer scored her first goal in six games.

2. Familiar success. With her third-quarter goal against Iowa, Popper became the fourth Terp in the last two seasons to score at least one goal against the same opponent in the regular season and Big Ten Tournament.

3. Another tournament run. Maryland claimed victory in its opening Big Ten Tournament match for the third consecutive year. The Terps have advanced to the tournament’s semifinals in eight of the past 10 seasons.