Off two first-period goals from Grace Balsdon and Welma Luus, the Maryland field hockey team took down top-ranked Connecticut, 2-1.
On a blistery Sunday afternoon, the Terps returned home from a brief two-game road trip to face their toughest opponent of the season in No. 1 Connecticut. The Huskies were the last undefeated team in the country, a perfect 16-0 coming into the game.
Early on, UConn had the edge, both on shots and ball possession. They quickly turned that into a goal just before the 5-minute mark of the game on Anna Middendorf’s first goal of the season.
It looked as though the Huskies would control the rest of the game, but the Terps quickly upped the pressure on Connecticut. It would take another 15 or so minutes, but Maryland would strike back.
In the 23rd minute, Grace Balsdon tied the game up for the Terps, a wrister into the top corner of the net off a penalty corner, her 12th goal of the season.
Just eight minutes later, Luus would emerge on a breakaway from a UConn defender. Her initial shot hit the crossbar, but the ball came right back to her and she didn’t miss the follow-up backhand shot, slotting the ball into the top left corner of the net, putting Maryland up 2-1 going into the half.
In the second half, Maryland had several significant chances in front of the net, but it was UConn who would apply the most pressure, especially towards the dying minutes of the game as the team became desperate to score.
However, these efforts were too little, too late, as the Terps were able to knock off the top-ranked Huskies.
Along with Balsdon and Luus, goalie Sarah Bates had another stellar game, saving 6 shots, several of those saves having come out of goal on a one-on-one chance, or sprawling out full extension to stop the shot. This was arguably her best game of the season, especially playing the best in the country.
Up next for Maryland is No. 10 Virginia this Tuesday. After that is the Terps’ last regular season game at home against Rutgers next Saturday before heading to the postseason. The Big Ten Tournament will be hosted in College Park.
Three things to know
- Maryland’s home success continues: With the win today, Maryland is now a perfect 7-0 at home. This is of no surprise as the Terps played in front of one of their biggest crowds this season. They hope to finish off the season undefeated with their next two home games against the Cavaliers and Scarlet Knights.
- Good defense wins games: Maryland’s back line played another stellar game today, along with Bates’ best performance of the season. Defender Courtney Deena was able to keep UConn forward Charlotte Veitner in her back pocket the entire game, denying the top goal scorer in the country of finding the net.
- Veteran leadership is the key to success: It’s been said time and time again that Maryland is one of the best teams in the country, but one of the main reasons for this is the veteran leadership on the team. Players like Welma Luus and Grace Balsdon have helped young Terps like Madison Maguire and Kelee Lepage perform well in games like today. There’s no doubt that this will continue to be an important part of Maryland for years to come.