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Maryland field hockey faces 2 more tough tests to close regular season

The Terrapins have two final regular season matches remaining before the Big Ten tournament begins.

maryland field hockey Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

The No. 2 Maryland field hockey team will look to use its last two regular season matches to tune up for postseason play.

Last weekend, an obliteration of Indiana preceded a close win against eighth-ranked Iowa, which showed that this Maryland team still does have some room to grow. This weekend, the Terrapins square off with two more top-25 teams, so they will certainly be tested.

Maryland will be honoring their seniors during the final regular season home match against Northwestern on Friday. Julie Duncan, Linnea Gonzales, Sarah Holliday, Olivia Reiter, Sabrina Rhodes and Melissa Wilken will all be recognized for their accomplishments, as this senior class has won three Big Ten titles, reached a national championship and tallied a record of 68-17.

The Terrapins’ final regular-season game will be Sunday at Virginia. The Big Ten tournament starts Sunday, Oct. 28, with the conference semifinals and finals taking place the following weekend.

No. 17 Northwestern (8-8, 3-4 Big Ten)

Friday, 4 p.m. ET, College Park, BTN Plus

The Wildcats come into Friday’s matchup on a three-game losing streak. The end of their Big Ten schedule has not been forgiving, as they suffered one-goal losses to No. 25 Ohio State, No. 14 Rutgers and No. 6 Penn State just before coming to College Park.

Along with its 8-8 record, Northwestern statistically is a very even team on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats have not given up more than four goals in a single game, but also have not scored more than four. As long as Maryland can keep putting shots at the net, the Terrapins should be able to convert.

Puck Pentenga, a senior midfielder from the Netherlands, leads Northwestern in goals (9) and is tied with Kirsten Mansfield for the team lead in assists (10). Her 59 shots is more than double the total of anyone else on the team and is a third of the team’s shots all season. If Maryland can keep her off the scoresheet, then the Terrapins will just need to focus on offense to win.

No. 23 Virginia (5-8, 1-4 ACC)

Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, Charlottesville, Virginia, ESPN+

The Cavaliers find themselves in a much different spot than they were in last season when the two teams met. Maryland took down third-ranked Virginia 5-4 after building a 5-1 lead and holding on down the stretch. This time around, the Cavaliers have fallen from their preseason rank of No. 7 in the nation to 23rd thanks to their losing record. Their only win versus a ranked team came in early September when they took down Syracuse 2-1 in overtime.

Virginia’s biggest bright spot this season has been its effort on defense. Senior goalkeeper Carrera Lucas has only had to face 11.6 shots per game, and she’s posted a .788 save percentage. Though the Cavaliers only score 1.38 goals per game, their defense has been the one bright spot in their game, holding opponents to 1.46 goals per contest. Maryland could use some of the lightning-fast attack it displayed earlier this season to put this one away early.