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Maryland field hockey vs. Connecticut preview

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The 11-0 Terps face the 10-0 Huskies in a national title game rematch.

maryland field hockey Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

After a pair of Big Ten wins over ranked opponents at home, the Maryland field hockey team will travel to Connecticut to take on the Huskies in what will be a rematch of the 2017 NCAA championship game.

In the matchup last season, neither team was able to take a commanding advantage in shots. Maryland held a slight 7-5 advantage, but the Terrapins’ weakness really showed in their penalty corners. Four Maryland penalty corners resulted in zero goals, and the Huskies were able to escape with a 2-1 win after scoring in the 62nd minute off a Maryland turnover.

The Terrapins will seek revenge on the road, where they are 4-0 on this season. The Huskies have defeated both Michigan State and Michigan, like Maryland, and both sets of games actually had similar score lines. Connecticut defeated both Michigan State 5-0 and Michigan 2-1 at home, while Maryland’s scores were 5-1 and 2-1 respectively.

Sunday’s game starts at noon on HuskyVision, which is only available by subscription.

No. 2 Connecticut Huskies (10-0)

2017 record: 23-0, national champions

Head coach Nancy Stevens is in the midst of her 29th season coaching Connecticut field hockey, and is no stranger to winning, as she’s helped UConn win three championships in five seasons. The 2017 campaign of 23-0 was just the sixth perfect season in NCAA history, and the Huskies have the longest unbeaten streak in the nation at 33 wins.

Players to know

Cecile Pieper, No. 29: This fifth-year back leads Connecticut in goals and points so far this season, with 12 and 30 respectively. The German native has 99 appearances for the national team, and helped capture a bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She’s played the second-most minutes on the team (623) and has started each game this season, so her leadership is a big part of the Huskies’ success.

Svea Boker, No. 22: Another German native, Boker is a junior forward that has a rather even stat line of eight goals and seven assists, tallying up 23 total points, which is second to Pieper. She’s only played 470 minutes despite starting every game, but her offense could give Maryland problems if she plays all 70 minutes.

Strengths

Offense. Connecticut enters the matchup against Maryland with seven players that sport double digit point totals on the season, and an eight player just one point behind. Maryland’s defense and Sarah Holliday will have to key in on every move the Huskies make, as anyone can become the hot scorer.

Goalkeeping: The Huskies’ Cheyenne Sprecher comes into this match with a goals against average of just 0.92. She’s tallied up 34 saves and earned the win in each of Connecticut’s 10 games this season. Maryland will really need to capitalize on any offensive chances they have in order to breakthrough in this one.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland sees playing Connecticut as a win in itself. Missy Meharg spoke to the media this week and gave credit to the Huskies for the team they have, and noted Maryland has everything to gain from this matchup. “They’ve got a lot of returning players, they’ve got a lot of players who have won a couple national championships, and they’ve got a fantastic player in [Pieper],” she said.
  2. This Maryland team is better than it was last time around. Senior Linnea Gonzales spoke of the Terrapins’ feeling heading into the rematch by explaining, “We were pretty upset over the loss because it was such a close game and [Connecticut] is such a very good team, very competitive and their technical skills are really good. I just think that we’ve come a long way since then and we use that feeling as fire, almost, for where we want to be this season and how we want to compete.”
  3. A win would send confidence to a new high. The Terps are undefeated against a very tough schedule, but beating UConn would be the most impressive victory yet. Senior Sabrina Rhodes said that a win would “increase our confidence in ourselves.”