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Maryland field hockey vs. Connecticut NCAA Tournament preview

It’s an NCAA championship rematch in this year’s quarterfinals.

maryland field hockey Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland field hockey will match up with Connecticut for the second time in 2018 on Sunday after the Huskies clinched the national championship over the Terrapins in 2017.

The NCAA gave Connecticut (19-3) quite the short end of the stick on Selection Sunday, as the Huskies went from the No. 4 ranking and No. 5 RPI to the equivalent of the No. 7 seed by being paired with the second-seeded Terrapins.

Maryland (20-2) has a win over UConn this season, but the stakes are completely different this time. Whoever wins this matchup will face off against the winner of Harvard and No. 3-seed Princeton at the National semifinal in Louisville, Kentucky, next weekend.

Sunday’s quarterfinal matchup starts at 1 p.m. ET and can be streamed live with BTN Plus.

What happened last time

On Sept. 30, Maryland took its 11-0 record to Stoors for a highly-anticipated rematch and came out with a 4-2 victory.

The Terrapins scored early and often, taking a 4-0 lead less than 39 minutes into the match and putting it in cruise control the rest of the way. Maryland outshot Connecticut 19-8, and racked up eight penalty corners that resulted in three of the four goals.

What’s happened since

Maryland started to slow up after this big win, and the Huskies tripped up as well. Both teams lost twice to close out their regular seasons, with the Huskies falling to No. 5 Princeton and No. 1 North Carolina and the Terrapins falling at No. 7 Penn State and No. 23 Virginia.

Both teams won their conference titles, and they both did so in simple fashion. The one difference is that while Maryland had to come back to beat Albany 2-1, the Huskies easily handled Rutgers in their first round matchup, winning 5-0.

Three things to watch

  1. Look for Maryland to attack early. Similar to the last matchup against Connecticut, the Terrapins will most likely be successful if they can score early and often. After the slow start and comeback Friday, look for Missy Meharg’s team to come out strong and awake on Sunday.
  2. Connecticut is dangerous despite its seeding. The Huskies score an average of 4.55 goals per game and reached the 100-goal mark as a team on Friday. Their only three losses came to teams within the top five of the rakings, so the Terrapins will definitely need to respect the Huskies in this one.
  3. Sarah Holliday and the defense will be key. Maryland stayed in the match against Albany thanks to great defending by Holliday and the team as a whole. Connecticut won’t be afraid to put pressure on the Terrapins, so the defense must stay composed. The Huskies also come in with 167 penalty corners taken this season, so set-piece defense could be critical in keeping Maryland in this match