After a 10-day break, No. 8 Maryland field hockey (7-2) will be back in action Thursday when it opens Big Ten play at No. 6 Rutgers.
Maryland finds itself outside of the top five of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll for the first time since Nov. 2021, but will have a chance to replenish its resume when it takes on Rutgers (9-0).
Thursday’s matchup is set for 3 p.m. and will be available for streaming on Big Ten Plus.
No. 7 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
2022 record: 8-10 (3-5 Big Ten)
Under 12th-year head coach Meredith Civico, who was a part of Maryland’s 2005 national championship squad, Rutgers is off to one of its best starts in program history. Rutgers is undefeated through nine games for the first time, with ranked wins against UConn, Princeton, Penn State and UMass.
Last year, Maryland clinched the Big Ten regular-season championship when it beat Rutgers, 4-3. Maryland is 35-4-1 all-time against the Scarlet Knights.
Players to know
Guillermina Causarano, junior midfielder, No. 25 — Causarano leads a Rutgers offense that has outscored its opponents this season, 23-7. The second-year captain has 20 points this year, with seven goals and six assists.
The Argentine had her first career hat trick in Rutgers’ most recent win at UMass.
Puck Winter, redshirt sophomore defender, No. 21 — Last year’s Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year has been all over the field this season. The Netherlands native ranks second on the team with 14 points, and her three defensive saves are tied for the fourth-most in the country.
Sophia Howard, redshirt junior goalkeeper, No. 30 — Howard is one of only three goalies in the country to start at least eight games in net this season and win each one. In nine games, she’s allowed just seven goals and has 31 saves.
Goaltending. Howard has been the catalyst behind Rutgers’ undefeated start to this season. She ranks top-four in the conference in goals allowed (7), shutouts (4) and goals against average (.717).
Late-game letup. Although it has not hurt them record-wise, the Scarlet Knights conceded a 1-0 lead in each of their first two games against ranked opponents. Against UConn and Princeton, who both lost in overtime, Rutgers allowed tying goals in the waning moments.
Three things to watch
1. Does Kieft feel the pressure from Klebasko? In Maryland’s most recent win at then-No. 6 Virginia, freshman goalkeeper Alyssa Klebasko had a career day, becoming the first Terp since 2021 to make seven saves in a game. However, Maryland head coach Missy Meharg has been alternating between Klebasko and junior Paige Kieft over the last six games.
On Tuesday, Meharg said, “Right now, we’re going to continue alternating games. A lot is driven by training sessions ... and opportunities, so we’re putting all of those facets into our decision.”
2. A late start to Big Ten play. Maryland is the only Big Ten team yet to play a conference game this season, and its first test will be against one of the league’s best. The Terps have not gone this late into a season without playing a Big Ten opponent since joining the conference in 2014.
3. Does Boss come off the bench again? During Maryland’s most recent win against Virginia, Meharg switched her starters for the first time since Maryland’s second game of the season. One of those decisions was starting Anna Castaldo in place of Hannah Boss, who came off the bench in the second quarter to score the eventual game-winning goal.