No. 2 Maryland field hockey lost its first Big Ten game against then-No. 9 Michigan on Oct. 18 but bounced back with a 6-3 comeback victory against then-No. 21 Ohio State two days later.
Now, the Terps host the Michigan State Spartans in their final regular season home game. With a win against Michigan State, the Terps are guaranteed at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
With the regular season winding down, head coach Missy Meharg wants to see some improvements in this last game to prepare for the postseason.
“I would really like to see our team step on the field and compete and dominate,” Meharg said. “Whether the ball goes into the goal cage or not, to be able to just maintain dominance, dominance and dominance.”
In the last regular season home game, Maryland will also honor its seniors — Lizzy Dessoye, Logan Edmondson, Kelee Lepage, Madison Maguire and Jen Bleakney. And those seniors want to go out with a win and carry over the momentum.
“It’s our last home game, our last time that were guaranteed to be here,” Bleakney said. “To win and just bring that into the next few games we have would be awesome.”
Michigan State — Friday, 5 p.m.
The Spartans struggles have continued this year as they try to post a winning record for the first time since 2014. Michigan State comes into this game with a 6-9 record and are on a three-game losing streak. The Spartans are also winless in conference play, owning an 0-6 record.
Michigan State has improved from last season, where the Spartans finished 5-15 and 0-8 in the Big Ten. Last season, it struggled to put the ball in the cage, averaging less than one goal per game, but this year the Spartans are averaging 1.67 goals per game. Despite improved offense, it still hasn’t been enough as Michigan State has been outscored 40-25 this season.
The Spartans’ defense has also struggled in limiting top offenses in the nation, allowing 2.67 goals per game. They even gave up eight goals against Michigan. And the defense will certainly have its hands full against the Terps.
In 2018, these two teams met once in the regular season and then in the Big Ten Tournament. In both games, Maryland dominated Michigan State, winning 5-1 in the regular season and 6-0 in the tournament.
Players to know
Aisha Osinga, sophomore forward, No. 11 — Last season, Osinga wasn’t much of an offensive threat for Michigan State. This season though, the sophomore leads the Spartans in total points with 14, on five goals and four assists. She’s recorded a goal or an assist in each of the last four games.
Nienke Bloemsaat, freshman defender, No. 9 — In her freshman season, Bloemsaat has been a crucial part of the Michigan State defense. Bloemsaat has the second most minutes played and has played the entire game in each of her last five. In addition to her six defensive saves, she also has been a threat off corners, totaling five goals.
Jade Arundell, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 1 — Although the Spartans have allowed 2.67 goals per game, Arundell hasn’t been the issue. She ranks in the top five in the nation with saves, totaling 123, while posting a .755 save percentage. The sophomore has also posted six games with double-digit saves.
Three things to watch
1. Maryland has been historically dominant against Michigan State. The Terps have a perfect 12-0 record against the Spartans all-time. Since joining the Big Ten, Maryland is 8-0 against Michigan State, while outscoring the Spartans 33-8.
2. The Terps can clinch at least a share of the Big Ten. Maryland sits at the top of the Big Ten with a 6-1 record, but it also will be the first team to finish its conference games. If Maryland beats Michigan State, the team will claim at least a share of the Big Ten conference. However, If Iowa or Michigan fail to win out in conference play, the Terps will be the lone winner of the conference.
3. Maryland has the chance to finish undefeated at home, again. In the 2018 season, the Terps went a flawless 9-0 when defending their home turf. Now in 2019, Maryland has the chance to secure the identical record with a victory over the Michigan State Spartans.