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No. 2 Maryland field hockey weekend preview: No. 9 Michigan and No. 21 Ohio State

The Terps have a pair of top-25 matchups on tap for the upcoming weekend.

Maryland field hockey defense 2019 Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

No. 2 Maryland field hockey (13-1, 5-0) continued its run of strong play last week and now looks to pick up a couple more wins this weekend.

This past weekend, the Terps picked up back-to-back shutout victories over then-No. 6 Iowa and Indiana to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

“Confidence-wise, it makes us feel great that we’re not conceding on our end,” junior defender Hannah Bond said. “And that the forwards and the midfielders can really go on the attack without having something to worry about behind them.”

Despite outscoring the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers 9-0, head coach Missy Meharg said her team is a “good team, not a great team.”

This weekend, Maryland goes on the road to face No. 9 Michigan and No. 21 Ohio State, but there are a few things that Meharg would like to see her team do better.

“We have a lot of work to do with early communication and defensive structures as soon as we move the ball,” Meharg said. “We need to communicate earlier to stop the ball outside the circle edge. The other piece is continuing to work on detailed discipline on everybody’s role in the attack corner.”

No. 9 Michigan — Friday, 6 p.m.

The Wolverines come into this game with a 10-3 record and are on a four-game winning streak. Michigan is 3-1 in Big Ten play, with its lone loss coming against then-No. 7 Northwestern.

Last season the Wolverines finished 14-7, but this year they’re much improved.

Michigan has outscored its opponents 41-12 this season, allowing 0.92 goals per game. The most impressive part of the defense is that it’s only allowed 32 shots on goal season long.

On the offensive side of things for the Wolverines, they’ve averaged 3.15 goals per game, which ranks top-15 in the nation. Four players have at least five goals this season.

In the 2018, these two teams met once — Michigan traveled to College Park, where the Terps came out on top in a 2-1 victory. Since joining the Big Ten, the Terps are 6-1 against the Wolverines.

Players to know

Meg Dowthwaite, senior midfielder/forward, No. 15. Dowthwaite is the Wolverines’ leading scorer this season, posting 17 points on seven goals and three assists. Coming into this game, the veteran has scored a goal in each of her last three games.

Sofia Southam, sophomore midfielder, No. 8. Last season as a freshman, Southam was third on the team with five goals. This season, she’s already scored four goals and added five assists for 13 total points. Southam’s most impressive game this season came against Michigan State, where the sophomore recorded a hat trick. She has also tallied an assist in each of the last three games.

Anna Spieker, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 18. Although the Wolverines’ defense has limited shot opportunities, Spieker has done her job in goal. The sophomore has saved 22 shots, allowing just 0.75 goals per game. The German native has also recorded four shutouts this season.

No. 21 Ohio State — Sunday, 12 p.m.

The Buckeyes sit at 6-6 and are on a two-game losing streak coming into this matchup. Ohio State is also 1-3 in the Big Ten, with its only win coming against the Indiana Hoosiers.

In 2018, the Buckeyes ended the season with a 12-8 record but went 5-5 in Big Ten conference play. This season, the offense has exploded against unranked teams, scoring six or more goals in four games. However, when the Buckeyes have played ranked teams they have struggled to get on the board. In six of their seven games against ranked opponents, the Buckeyes have scored just one goal.

While their stats may be a bit skewed because of lopsided games against unranked opponents, the Buckeyes have scored 3.50 goals per game. This high-powered offense ranks top-five in the nation for goals per game. On the defensive end, Ohio State has allowed 1.67 goals per game.

Last season, Maryland beat Ohio State 1-0 in College Park as a result of an early goal scored by junior captain Bodil Keus. The two teams met again later in the year in the Big Ten Tournament, when the Terps routed the Buckeyes in a 9-1 victory.

Players to know

Mackenzie Allessie, freshman midfielder, No. 6. The freshman has been a scoring machine since high school. As a junior, Allessie won the National Scoring Champion title with 91 goals and also led the nation in assists with 38. In her freshman year at the NCAA level, Allessie is still performing as a goal scorer — the freshman has a team-high 12 goals and also has five assists.

Esther Clotet Alsina, senior midfielder, No. 18. Last season, Alsina led the team in scoring with 11 goals and 26 total points. This year, the senior has been a key piece of the offense, totaling 18 points on seven goals and four assists. Asina recorded eight points in one game against Central Michigan after earning a hat trick and picking up two assists.

Aaliyah Hernandez, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 00. As a freshman last season, Hernandez started 18 games and recorded 60 saves as well as four shutouts. This year, the sophomore has already tallied 51 saves and holds .718 save percentage.

Three things to watch

  1. Can Maryland keep up its matchup dominance? Like so many of the Big Ten teams, Maryland has had great success against Michigan and Ohio State since joining the conference in 2014. The Terps and Wolverines have had a couple of close matches in that time period, but Maryland still owns a 6-1 record against them. For Ohio State, the games have not been very close. The Terps are 7-0 against the Buckeyes since 2014 and have outscored them 31-5.
  2. Will Maryland be able to succeed away from home? This weekend, the Terps have the opportunity to travel and play against ranked opponents on the road — so far this season Maryland has only had three away games, but it’s won all three. Michigan is currently 5-1 on its home turf, while Ohio State is 3-4.
  3. Will the Terps be able to contain high-powered offenses? Maryland has shown all season long that its defense can matchup with any team. The Terps have allowed just 11 goals all year, which ranks in the top-five in the nation. While the defense has been very consistent regardless of opponent, the Terps will have to show it again this weekend as they face two of the top offenses in the country.