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Maryland field hockey vs. Princeton Final Four preview

This rematch will send one team to the national title game.

field hockey Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

Maryland and Princeton will face off Friday in the national semifinal of the 2018 NCAA Field Hockey Tournament.

The two teams met in the middle of September, as Princeton gave Maryland one of its toughest games early on this season. Both programs are familiar with each other, as Tigers head coach Carla Tagliente and assistant coach Dina Rizzo both played for and spent time coaching under Missy Meharg.

Maryland will be looking to advance to its second straight national championship game, and the winner of this match will face the winner of North Carolina and Wake Forest on Sunday.

Game Information: Lousiville, Kentucky, Friday, 3:45 p.m. ET


What happened last time

On Sept. 18, Maryland traveled to Princeton with an 8-0 record and looked to keep rolling as conference play started heating up. The fifth-ranked Tigers caught the Terrapins off guard, as they took a 4-1 lead with just 25 minutes remaining in the match.

Maryland would rally back and tie the game with just 15 seconds remaining after a double deflection shot found the back of the goal. Nike Lorenz would then win the game in the second overtime period, completing the comeback and moving Maryland to 9-0.

What’s happened since

Maryland pushed through the wake-up call and kept its season rolling until visiting Penn State. The Terrapins then won the Big Ten regular season and postseason titles, and earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Two tough games at home against Albany and the defending champion Connecticut Huskies resulted in wins, sending Maryland to the Final Four.

Princeton steamrolled through the rest of its schedule, except a loss against Harvard late in the season cost them the Ivy League title and automatic bid. The Tigers, however, earned the No. 3 seed and defeated Virginia (one of two teams to beat Maryland) and won their rematch against Harvard to book their trip to Louisville.

Three things to watch

  1. Do the Terrapins have their legs under them? A recurring theme with the Terrapins late in the season has been their occasional struggle with energy. As seen against Iowa and Virginia late in the regular season and even against Albany after winning the Big Ten tournament, Maryland tends to let teams hang around after big games. An emotional win against a great Connecticut team may result in a flat start against Princeton.
  2. The revenge factor is in play for Princeton. Maryland’s largest comeback win (from three goals down) came to Princeton earlier this season. The Terrapins won that game in double-overtime, and head coach Missy Meharg said there may be a sense of “revenge” for Princeton. She also noted the familiarity between herself and the coaching staff at Princeton (which is led by two of her former players) and said that Friday’s matchup will be a “players game.”
  3. The team feels more prepared than ever. One of the biggest storylines after the win over Connecticut was the fact that two teams of that caliber matched up in the quarterfinals. That game could just as easily been for a national championship, and the Maryland players feel that playing such a big game will have them prepared for this weekend.