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Big Ten Tournament semifinal preview: Maryland field hockey vs. Rutgers

The Terps and Scarlet Knights face off with a trip to the title game on the line.

Maryland v American Univeristy Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After a 2-0 win yesterday over No. 6-seed Iowa, No. 3-seed Maryland field hockey will face No. 2-seed Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Friday.

Maryland (15-4) suffered its toughest loss of the regular season earlier this year at Rutgers (16-2). The Terps utilized a Maci Bradford goal to tie the game before overtime, but did not survive a penalty shootout, as All-Big Ten selection Paulina Niklaus beat Maryland’s Paige Kieft to win it for the Scarlet Knights. It was Maryland’s only penalty shootout this season.

Maryland will take on Rutgers at 3:30 p.m. with the game available for streaming on Big Ten Network.

What’s happened since

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (16-2, 6-2 Big Ten)

The win over Maryland was the Scarlet Knights’ 10th victory in a 15-game winning streak they had to start its season. Rutgers finished the regular season with a 5-2 conference record after beating Maryland, losing each of its final two non-tournament games against No. 1 Northwestern and No. 8 Iowa.

Maryland Terrapins (15-4, 6-2 Big Ten)

After losing to Rutgers, Maryland rattled off seven straight wins before suffering a lopsided 5-1 loss to top-ranked Northwestern in its regular season finale. The final eight games of the regular season saw the Terps go 4-1 against ranked conference opponents.

How they got here

Maryland utilized goals from Hope Rose and Sammy Popper in a 2-0 opening round win over Iowa. With the win, the Terps completed a sweep of Iowa and bounced back from the aforementioned loss to Northwestern.

Right before Maryland beat Iowa at Phyllis Ocker Field, Rutgers pulled out a 1-0 first-round win over No. 7-seed Michigan. As was the case in Rutgers’ victory over Maryland, a Paulina Niklaus goal was the difference-maker in a narrow win.

“We’re awfully excited,” Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said of the matchup with Rutgers. “I had the opportunity to watch the entire [Michigan-Rutgers] game here, and I think we match up super well … and it’s going to be a great match.”

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland continue winning without corners? In its win against Iowa, Maryland drew only four corners, its lowest total in the last five games. The Terps supplemented their attack by totaling 19 shots, but look for Meharg and company to emphasize more short corner opportunities. Rutgers held a 10-5 corner advantage against Maryland during the teams’ regular season matchup.

2. Will the Terps late game experience hurt them? As mentioned, Maryland’s loss to Rutgers was the lone shootout game the Terps have played in this season and only the second that needed extra time. They’ll look to avoid another extra-time duel.

3. A trip to the final on the line. Maryland has lost its last two Big Ten Tournament semifinal games and hasn’t been to the title game since 2018. Rutgers last went to the championship game in 2021.