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Maryland field hockey falls to UConn, 2-1, in national title game

The Terps’ tournament run comes up one goal short.

maryland field hockey Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

Maryland field hockey’s comeback effort fell just short to the No. 1 team in the country in the national title game.

After Maryland responded quickly in the second half to the Huskies’ opening goal, Connecticut was able to use its one-player advantage to take a 2-1 lead that the Terps could not come back from.

It was clear from the beginning that the Huskies were prepared for the Terps’ press. Connecticut’s backline showed great patience and composure when passing among one another, which allowed the Huskies to find the right passing lanes to make their way up the field to an experienced midfield that put the team in great offensive situations.

The ability to hold onto the ball in through the high pressure situations was eventually rewarded. The Huskies set themselves up with a three-on-two attacking opportunity that led to a shot by Charlotte Veitner that fired past Sarah Holliday to give her side a 1-0 lead.

The Terps bounced back, as Maryland found another gear to make its press even tougher against Connecticut, which forced the Huskies to hang further back as the Terps made a downfield charge of their own.

Sophomore defender Kelee Lepage was the leader of most of the pushes. Her movement up and down the field put her in position to not only hit centering passes to give Maryland chances at a goal, but also help out on defense when need be. The Terps made their pushes but could not convert before the half, and the score remained 1-0 when the whistle blew.

Maryland’s first-half efforts eventually paid off. Seven minutes into the new half, the Terps earned an important penalty corner. After the set play seemed to completely fall apart, Kyler Greenwalt pushed her way into the penalty circle and fired the loose ball right past the Husky keeper to tie everything up, 1-1.

Momentum seemed to be on Maryland’s side. While Connecticut got the occasional push, the Terps had pressure that felt like it would result in something more meaningful. Everything quickly changed when Hannah Bond was sent off with a five-minute yellow card that gave UConn a one-player advantage with about 12 minutes left in the half.

The Huskies used the personnel difference to their advantage and were able to bring some pressure of their own. Once again, the ball found its way to the stick of Veitner, and once again her shot found its way in the net to give UConn a 2-1 lead with eight minutes to go.

After five minutes of their own pressure, Sarah Holliday was pulled to give the Terps a player advantage down the stretch. Ultimately, it was not enough, as the Huskies were able to stop Maryland at every turn and dribble out the clock when they had possession. The final score was 2-1.

Three things to know

  1. The fouls caught up to the Terps. Despite frequently getting called for fouls on Friday against Michigan, Maryland did not let up in its pressure against individual defenders. The aggressive style of play was stopped by officials more frequently and punished more severely in this game. Green cards were handed out early and often, and eventually a yellow card was issued to Hannah Bond for sweeping the legs of another player. It ended up making the difference.
  2. Chances in the final third were missing on both sides. This game can still be categorized by good defense. Backlines held firm on a lot of plays and prevented the opposing offenses getting into the penalty circle and getting shots off. The difference was that when given the opportunity to shoot, UConn scored and Maryland didn’t.
  3. The incredible tournament run falls just short. The Terps still took the best team in the country down to the wire in a national title game. If it wasn’t for the player advantage, the Huskies would not have had any momentum to build on and the game could have carried into overtime. That consoling fact isn’t as great as a national title, but it’s still something to be proud of. With a majority of the big players being underclassmen, the heights that the Terps can reach next season with the left-over hunger from 2017 will be something to certainly watch for.