Maryland field hockey advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on Thursday, defeating Rutgers 3-1 on the strength of two early goals.
The No. 1 seed Terps (16-3) were no strangers to the No. 8 seed Scarlet Knights (9-9), whom they beat 4-1 in their regular season finale last Saturday.
The Terps elected to play in the 3 p.m. game, a decision that played into their favor early on. Just as in the second half last Saturday, the Terps started strong and didn’t let up.
Just 25 seconds into the game, Kelee Lepage scored her 4th goal of the season off a pass from Welma Luus, the Terps’ leader in points this season.
Maryland wasn’t done there. Sixty-three seconds later, Madison Maguire scored her sixth goal of the season off another assist from Luus.
The score would stay 2-0 Maryland going into the break, but the Terps survived a big scare about halfway through the the first half .
Rutgers went on a stretch where they earned six straight penalty corners. Luckily for Maryland, the Scarlet Knights weren’t able to convert on any of them, thanks to great defending and solid goalkeeping from Sarah Bates.
At the half, both teams were tied in shots with seven, and Rutgers was winning in penalty corners, six to two. Maryland still had the convincing lead at the break, controlling the ball for most of the half.
In the second half, not much changed in Maryland’s play style. The Terps continued to attack and pressure Rutgers in their own half.
In the 46th minute, Linnea Gonzales put the Terps ahead 3-0 with her 10th goal of the season, off a penalty corner. The goal was set up beautifully by Carrie Hanks, who laid the ball back to Gonzales.
With the three-goal lead, the Terps played comfortably for the majority of the period, not only keeping possession, but keeping Rutgers out of their half of the field.
However, with under six minutes left in the game, Alyssa Bull put Rutgers on the board, scoring off a deflection from a penalty corner. This gave the Scarlet Knights some life as the game was drawing to a close.
Fortunately for Maryland, the Rutgers attack was too little, too late, and the Terps pulled out the win.
Maryland’s next game is tomorrow at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Northwestern-Iowa quarterfinal.
Three things to know
- Maryland was dominant at home once again. Though this wasn’t necessarily considered a home game for Maryland, it was, and the Terps took full advantage of it. Maryland finished the regular season with a perfect record at home, and they look to continue that defect throughout the rest of the Big Ten Tournament
- The Terps looked to their youth. Maryland’s first two goals were scored by freshmen (Lepage and Maguire). For a team that is led by upperclassmen stat-wise, contributions from younger players can only be a positive going forward into the postseason.
- Maryland was cool in the limelight. Time and time again this season, Maryland has performed well in big games. Today was no different. Having played Rutgers last week, their playing style was in the forefront of Maryland’s mindset going into today’s game. They attacked with success early and never looked back. Now, the Terps are looking ahead to Friday’s clash to continue their success.