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Maryland field hockey looks to bounce back from a slow start

The Terps lost twice at the Big Ten/ACC Cup, and they’re hoping to return to form at home this weekend.

Field Hockey OSU 1

This past weekend, Maryland was swept in the Big Ten/ACC Cup due to a lack of offensive firepower and experience from their main rotation of players. A senior-heavy Duke team (second in the nation at the time) beat the Terps on Friday, 2-0, outshooting Maryland 20-5. The margin of victory might have been greater if goalkeeper Sarah Holliday hadn’t been in fantastic form, securing a career-high 12 saves.

The Terps were able to find some semblance of consistent offense on Sunday in the second half of their game against Boston College when they outshot the eagles 11-2. However, the push came too little too late as they fell 2-1.

A 1-2 record to start the season might still be an unfamiliar sight for Coach Missy Meharg. Before last season, the Terps had not gone worse than 2-1 in the team’s first three games since 1996.

To make matters worse, Meharg announced Wednesday that Mayv Clune, Max Field Hockey’s best freshman of the nation’s incoming class, is out for the season after tearing her PCL playing with the U-19 squad this past spring. Defenders Kelee Lepage and Emily Thomas are also battling injuries of their own.

The slow start might be a cause for concern after the team’s early-exit from the national tournament last season, but there are a few more factors at play here. Meharg seemed to recognize that the importance of the cup was more about getting the new players familiar with the game than winning.

“We’re rotating six or seven first year players, so for us, it’s about getting these touches and these minutes,” she said on Sunday. “Getting these top-10, top-15 matchups on the schedule is a real positive for this developing team.”

A five-spot drop for the Terps

Maryland faced some consequences for losing two straight games. In the most recent NFHCA Coaches Ranking, the Terps dropped five spots to No. 11 in the country. Maryland started the season at No. 6, which was the 19th consecutive time it began the season in the top 10.

Both of Maryland’s opponents this past weekend benefited from their wins over the Terps, as Duke moved to No. 1 and Boston College moved to No. 8. The Terps are now the third-highest ranked team in the Big Ten behind No. 3 Penn State and No. 7 Michigan.

This weekend’s preview

Maryland is most certainly looking for a bounce-back weekend after their less-than-stellar trip up to Lancaster. They will play Towson and No. 9 Louisville on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex when they host the Terrapin Invitational.

Towson (0-4)

2016 Record: 2-17, 0-6 CAA

Head coach E.A. Jackson’s inaugural campaign with the Tigers has not gotten off to a strong start. Opponents have outshot Towson 84-16 in four games and have forced the Tigers to score less than a goal per game. Freshman midfielder Valerie Hajek is the team’s leading scorer with one goal and one assist. History has given the Terps a lot of success against the Tigers with an all-time record of 29-0-1. Maryland won the last matchup in 2015, 6-0.

No. 9 Louisville (3-1)

2016 Record: 15-6, 3-3 ACC

The Cardinals came into the season ranked No. 9, their highest preseason ranking in program history, and have certainly shown their worth with a trio of wins that includes a 3-1 victory over defending champs Delaware. Louisville has outshot its opponents 59-32 and has only allowed five goals so far this season, while bagging 13 of its own. Sophomore Minout Mink and senior Nicole Woods lead the team in scoring with three goals and one assist apiece. The Terps do hold the all-time series against the Cardinals—although they’ve only played once, in 2010.