Maryland field hockey earned the No. 2 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament thanks to a 19-2 record and a sweep of the 2018 Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.
This high seeding gives the Terrapins a home-field advantage for the first two rounds, and they most likely will need it based on who they may face.
Albany, their first-round matchup, has defeated Maryland in their last two meetings, both of which ended with a 2-1 score. Most notably, the Great Danes took down Maryland in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament in College Park. Maryland then scheduled Albany for the 2015 season and lost the rematch as well.
If they can fight past Albany, one of two familiar faces will be waiting for Maryland. Connecticut will play Rutgers at 2:30 p.m. on Friday in a first round matchup for a spot in Sunday’s second round game. Maryland defeated both teams this season, but Connecticut just barely fell out of the top-four rankings, so the defending champions are probably hungry to prove the committee wrong.
One of the keys to Missy Meharg and this Maryland season has been not looking too far ahead, so all focus should be on Albany. The Terrapins and Great Danes square off at noon Friday on BTN Plus.
Albany Great Danes (16-4, 6-2 America East)
Head coach Phil Skyes, in his 14th season, has led Albany to six conference titles in the last 10 seasons.
Players to know
Sophomore midfielder Ghislaine Beerkens, a native of Laren, Netherlands, has started every match for the Great Danes this season. She leads the team in both goals (13) and points (27), making her a real offensive threat.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Melissa Nalon takes on the role of leading the Albany defense. She has only allowed 15 goals in 20 games, and has posted a save percentage of .819 this season. Being one of just three players who have been on this team for four seasons, her leadership is just as important as her skills in goal
Offense: Albany comes in scoring an average of 2.4 goals on 15.8 shots per game, and their goals production is just about even between each half. The Great Danes also come in with 158 penalty corner chances on the season, so the Terrapins will need to hone in on their set pieces for this one. Most of Albany’s offensive production also comes from midfielders who push up, so Maryland could find counter attacks if their defense can come up with stops.
Late-game defense: The Great Danes seem to slack on defense when the second half of games comes around. Throughout the season, Albany has given up four goals on 45 shots in the first half, but 10 goals in the second half off 99 shots. Maryland has done a good job this season of attacking opponents who seem tired, and the late effort against Princeton (turning a 4-1 deficit into a 5-4 win) is a good example of how the Terrapins can turn it on as time goes on.