Maryland field hockey ended its homestand at the Terrapin Invitational this weekend with a result it had not seen this season: a win against a ranked team. The Terps went back over .500 on Sunday with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Louisville.
Both teams walked onto the field having gone through very different experiences against ranked teams. Maryland had lost its previous two games, having been outmatched offensively both times. Louisville, on the other hand, could boast victories against both of their ranked opponents—including reigning national champions Delaware.
But none of that seemed to matter for Maryland. After Friday’s record-breaking performance against Towson, the Terps came into Sunday’s game with the confidence of a team that was reminded how great they could be, and it showed.
Maryland played the first half with the aggression and pace that the Terps demonstrated against Towson. They dominated possession early and were able to fire off 11 shots compared to Louisville’s four. However, the efforts from both teams did not lead to any scoring, and they went into halftime scoreless.
It’s not like the Terps could consider the half that unsuccessful. Their backline held strong on the occasions that Louisville did regain possession and was able to prevent the offensive pushes that had plagued them against other ranked teams. This was especially helpful considering how high the team pushed all game.
Maryland kept the attack going into the second half. After six more shots, including two that forced diving saves from Louisville goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, sophomore defender Bodil Keus scored her first goal of the season off a low driven shot into the corner of the cage from a penalty corner. Keus had been knocking on the door all game with four shots at the time.
Ironically, that goal seemed to Louisville some life. The Cardinals turned up their offensive pressure and forced to Terps to play further back. On a couple occasions, Maryland goalkeeper Sarah Holliday was forced to make some important saves as Louisville seemed to get into penalty circle with ease. Exhausted Terps certainly did not make things easier, according to coach Missy Meharg.
“You heard a lot of communication on the sideline because kids were gassed” she said. “The style we were playing was emptying their tanks, but all of a sudden an empty tank means some open space. Substitutions are hard with a field this size and I think we were a little disorganized after we scored.”
Luckily for the Terps, the push was not enough for their opponents and they were able keep organized enough to end the game with a 1-0 win. Maryland is now 2-0 all time against Louisville. Holliday understood that the win was important, but knew not to make too much of it.
“I would not take it too far to say this win was scream-and-jump amazing because we still have a lot more to do, and, yes this does set a tone considering our previous two games, but I think it’s good enough to take it and just keep going with,” she said.
Maryland’s next game will be away in Bloomington, Indiana, to start Big Ten play against Indiana on Friday at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Three things to know
- Hannah Bond didn’t let Louisville do anything. The freshman defender was key in preventing so many shot attempts and even early counter-attacks from the Cardinals. It seemed like almost every break the Terps had started from her stick. On one occasion in the first half, she was able to chase down a Louisville forward to prevent a one-on-one scoring opportunity against Holliday.
- The Towson game was not a fluke. Let’s not take anything away from the Terps. Friday’s game was impressive, but a win was expected. The numbers may not have been the same Sunday, but the offense looked near identical in pressure and confidence.
- The shots are nice, but goals are better. Just like on Friday, the shot numbers were in Maryland’s favor. Also like Friday, the goal conversion numbers were not there. McFerran had some good saves for Louisville, but the Terps need to be scoring more. Hopefully the goals will come by the time Big Ten play starts.