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No. 3 Maryland field hockey pulls away late, defeats Cal, 4-1

The Terps improved to 2-0 on the year.

Maryland field hockey was tied with Cal late, but pulled away in the fourth quarter to move to 2-0 on the season.
Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 3 Maryland field hockey found itself tied with Cal and in danger of being upset entering the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon. But as the final period waned, Maryland began to collect penalty corners and finally netted the game-winner with just over six minutes to play when Hope Rose buried a shot into the corner of the goal.

Rose’s goal was Maryland’s first of three unanswered tallies in less than four minutes, as it overcame the Golden Bears, 4-1.

“It felt great and came off my stick really strong,” Rose said of her game-winning goal. “... We know that high-pressure moment, and forced them to make the mistakes.”

With the win, Maryland moved to 2-0 on the season while Cal fell to 0-2. The Terps will play the third and final game of their season-opening West Coast road trip against UC Davis on Monday at 6 p.m.

“I always say, big teams, big players find a way to play in the most pressure,” 36th-year Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. “... People have said, ‘Why are you playing three games in four days [in California]?’ but that’s pressure in itself. We have a good, deep squad so we can play a lot of players, and I expect them to love that pressure.”

After breaking the tie, Rose followed herself up just 90 seconds later. On Maryland’s next offensive possession, the Terps’ leading goal scorer from a year ago was without any teammates on the right side against Cal goalkeeper Tina Jolly. With three defenders closing in, Rose zipped a shot that bounced off of a defender’s foot and in — her third goal of the season.

“She’s special,” Meharg said of Rose. “She can go one-on-one, she can go one-on-three and dish it off … I think it was the third goal, [she had] absolutely no angle, and it was absolute precision into the far corner.”

Sammy Popper finished the Terps’ scoring run with a goal off a penalty corner in the game’s final moments. The Princeton transfer has been an important presence in the Maryland midfield already this season, scoring in each of the Terps’ first two games.

The final quarter was set up after Maryland failed to score on the many chances it had against the Golden Bears’ defense. While only having one shot and zero corners in the first half, the Terps logged seven shots and five corners in the third quarter. Cal responded to the pressure with its best defensive stretch, making five consecutive saves and preserving a 1-1 tie.

“Going into the fourth quarter, Missy had a talk with us,” Rose said. “We got back into the mentality that we need to win this, and we can. We’re the team that’s able to go out in the fourth and win it.”

In the first half, the Golden Bears struck first at the 14-minute mark. After both teams felt each other out with short possessions in the midfield, Cal got a good advance after a move by Kitty Baccanello. The graduate transfer netted her first goal of the season by beating Paige Kieft with 17 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

Five minutes later, the Terps tied the game while taking advantage of a Cal green card. Freshman Maci Bradford found herself in a crowd of Golden Bears by the right post before finding fifth-year Margot Lawn centered in front of the net. Lawn wasted no time scoring her first goal of the season from point-blank range, while Bradford, to no surprise of her head coach, logged her second assist in as many career games.

“She’s doing well, she’s doing what Macy does well,” Meharg said. “Today she had an assist, which is just what we want her to be doing. She’s getting used to playing defense, I don’t think she’s ever really been demanded to play defense so she’s learning.”

Right before the break, Cal was positioned to again end a quarter with the lead. Drawing contact while on the attack, the Golden Bears earned two corners and tested Kieft by finding graduate transfer Bente Baekers — a former Northwestern Wildcat and the active NCAA career goals leader who netted the first goal in Northwestern’s 2-1 win over Maryland in last year’s NCAA Final Four. But late in the second quarter on Sunday, Kieft stood tall on two straight shots from Baekers.

“It’s incredible,” Meharg said of the team’s defense against Baekers. “Paige knows her well … and for [freshman] Alyssa Klebasko to have a save against [Baekers] in the fourth quarter as well could’ve really changed the dimension of the game.”

Klebasko’s fourth-quarter save was the only save she, who replaced Kieft for the second half, had to make as Maryland’s late surge propelled it to victory.

Three things to know

1. Still undefeated. With the win over Cal, Maryland moved to 13-0 all-time against the Golden Bears, with every win coming under head coach Missy Meharg. The Terps also started the season 2-0 for the second consecutive year.

2. Consistency in net. Freshman Alyssa Klebasko made her first career save in net, relieving junior Paige Kieft for the second half. Last season, Maryland utilized both Kieft and Christina Calandra in net, and while Klebasko wasn’t put to the test Sunday, she will likely continue to split time with Kieft moving forward.

3. The Terps’ offense looks sharp early. Maryland has scored four goals in each of its first two games, slightly over the mark it set last year of 3.57 goals per game.