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Maryland field hockey NCAA Tournament preview: Saint Joseph’s

The Terps’ 25th consecutive tournament appearance begins with a matchup against a talented Atlantic 10 team.

2018 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Field Hockey Championships Photo by Jeff Reinking/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

After an exit in the Big Ten tournament semifinals against Penn State,Maryland field hockey looks ahead to the first round of the NCAA Tournament, it will play Saint Joseph’s.

This is Maryland’s 25th straight season competing in the tourney. But after losing in the national championship game each of the last two years, the Terps have higher goals in mind.

“Our goal in the end is obviously a national championship,” senior midfielder Madison Maguire said. “We knew that we were going to make the tournament based off our RPI, so just getting ready, switching gears. Obviously being sad and learning from your mistakes, but also just looking forward and seeing how to fix them, so we can go into the tournament very successful.”

The Terps will start the NCAA Tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia, after not being named one of the top four seeds. This is the first time since 2017 that Maryland will not be a host team.

For its first test, Maryland gets to face the Hawks, a team it hasn’t faced since the season opener in 2017.

“It’s fun going into a team that we’ve never had the opportunity to play before,” junior midfielder Brooke DeBerdine said. “And just playing our brand of hockey. Not looking too much into them, but really playing for ourselves, and playing to have fun and playing the Maryland style that we know how to play.”

No. 14 Saint Joseph’s — Friday, 2:30 p.m.

The Hawks are 17-3 this season and won the Atlantic 10 conference tournament to secure their bid to the NCAA Tournament. Saint Joseph’s has dominated its conference for the past two years, going 16-0 in conference play and winning back-to-back A-10 tournament titles.

In addition to dominating in conference games, the Hawks have also had success against some of the best teams in the NCAA. Some of Saint Joseph’s most impressive wins have come against current No. 10 Delaware, No. 18 Rutgers and No. 7 Boston College.

The Hawks have also lost a few close games against some of the premier teams in the country, including a double-overtime loss to No. 1 North Carolina and a 4-3 loss to No. 11 Michigan.

This season, the most impressive aspect of the Hawks has been their explosive offense. St. Joseph’s has the highest-scoring offense in the NCAA, averaging four goals per contest. The Hawks have a nation-high 80 goals this season and they’ve outscored opponents, 80-30.

Players to know

Tonya Botherway, sophomore forward, No. 13 — Botherway had an incredible freshman season, totaling 23 goals and 10 assists. This year, Botherway hasn’t had the same kind of numbers, but she still has been the Hawks’ best offensive player. In her sophomore year, the forward has recorded a team-high 34 points with 16 goals and two assists.

Kathrin Bentz, senior defender, No. 17 — This season, Bentz won the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, but she’s also been a key part of St. Joseph’s offense. In her first three seasons, Bentz only had one year where she recorded double-digit points. However, in 2019, she has been heavily involved on the offensive end. The senior has totaled 29 points on seven goals and 15 assists.

Victoria Kammerinke, senior goalkeeper, No. 64 — In her four seasons at St. Joseph’s, Kammerinke posted a 63-15 record and made 329 saves. This year, Kammerinke has a .709 save percentage while allowing 1.52 goals per game. The senior has also recorded four shutouts in 2019.

Three things to know

1. It will be a battle of a top offense vs. a top defense. While the Hawks have had a prolific scoring attack all season long, they will have to face one of the best defenses in the NCAA. Maryland has allowed just 17 goals all year, which is about 0.89 goals allowed per game. The 17 goals allowed are the second fewest in the NCAA behind UConn.

2. Will the Maryland offense come alive? Although it’s a small sample size, the Terps have scored just one goal in their last two games. For the season, Maryland has averaged 3.11 goals per game, but recently has struggled to get the ball in the back of the cage. Despite being shutout in its last game against Penn State, Maryland still managed 15 shots, including nine on goal.

3. Will Maryland continue to be successful in the first round? The Terps haven’t lost a game in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2015, where they fell 3-1 to Princeton. Last season, the Terps went down early to Albany in the first round, but scored two unanswered goals to survive and advance.