It’s been six years since Maryland field hockey last made it to an NCAA title game, and the Terps will need to beat No. 1 Connecticut to capture the program’s ninth national championship. This will also be the first meeting against the Huskies since 2016, when the Terps won 2-1 in College Park.
Scouting report: No. 1 UConn (22-0, 7-0 Big East)
It only makes sense that the toughest opponent Maryland will face this year will come in the final game of the season. Tournament games are supposed to get harder as a team advances, and this is as hard as it gets.
UConn has been nothing short of fantastic this season. The team is currently on a 22-game winning streak, the longest in the program’s history, and remains the only undefeated team in Divison I field hockey, a fact good enough to keep the Huskies at No. 1 for nine consecutive weeks.
But the nation-leading numbers don’t stop at the rankings. UConn leads the NCAA in goals per game (4.67), assists per game (4.52), points per game (13.86), scoring average (4.63), goals against average (0.61) and scoring margin (3.97). The Huskies can also boast having the best point-scorer in the country, senior forward Charlotte Veitner, who averages 3.72 points per game and has quite the awards resume:
If you’re looking for any holes in the Huskies’ defense or midfield, I can tell you right now you’re wasting your time. Casey Umstead was the Big East’s Defensive Player of the Year, goalkeeper Nina Klein is coming off a career high in saves against UNC, and UConn players with the third, fourth, and seventh highest assist rate in the country.
At this point, it might seem as if this preview is setting the Terps up for failure. That’s not entirely true. Missy Meharg’s squad can rely on a few things to lead them to success that North Carolina used: defense and set plays.
The Tar Heels kept the Huskies at bay with a strong backline that communicated well with an aggressive midfield, something Maryland knows a lot about. When North Carolina did get on the scoreboard, it was through a penalty corner. UConn’s penalty corner rate only gets worse as a game goes on, and if the Terps can keep it close, those might be there best opportunity to chip at any score.
The biggest thing that Maryland can hold onto is the momentum it brings into this title game. It’s not just that the team has gotten two consecutive upsets against two top-5 opponents; it’s the way those were done. The Terps battled back to win against Duke, and morally demolished Michigan. Field hockey fans should be excited to see what this team has in store for UConn.
How to watch, listen and follow along
Sunday, Nov. 19, 2 p.m. (ET), Trager Stadium, Louisville, Kentucky
Live Updates: NCAA stat page, Terps Field Hockey Twitter page, my twitter page