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Maryland field hockey weekend preview: Indiana

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The Terps play at home for the first time in nearly 17 months to take on Indiana.

Maryland v American Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

After six games away from home, Maryland field hockey will finally return to College Park to play Indiana for its first games at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex since Oct. 25, 2019.

The Terps have a 3-3 record this season by virtue of shutting out Michigan State and Ohio State, splitting the season series at Penn State and getting swept by Northwestern.

“We’re just awfully excited to be at home, after so many months away,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “All the women have all their spots filled, so looking forward to a good brand of Maryland hockey.”

In this season’s first installment of the NFCHA Coaches Poll, the Terps checked in at No. 10, despite having a .500 record. Maryland is one of five Big Ten teams ranked in the top-11 of the 20-team poll.

Maryland will play both Friday and Sunday against the Hoosiers, who are winless so far this season. The last time these two teams met, Maryland had its largest victory of the 2019 season, dismantling Indiana, 6-0. Friday’s match will be the first evening game for the Terps this season at 6 p.m., while Sunday’s contest will be played at 11 a.m. Both games will air on BTN Plus.

Now, let’s take a deep dive into this season’s Indiana club.

Indiana Hoosiers (0-6)

2019 record: 5-12 (1-7 Big Ten)

Head coach Kayla Bashore is in her second season leading the Indiana field hockey program. Indiana, where Bashore was a star field hockey player herself, is the first program she has been the head coach of. Graduating from the university in 2005, Bashore was a two-time All-American and a Big Ten Player of the Year. Bashore had four different stints as an assistant coach before accepting the Indiana job, most recently at Brown University from 2014-2016.

Indiana is 0-6 thus far, with five of its losses being shutouts. In their most recent game, the Hoosiers lost to Northwestern, 4-0. Bashore has a 5-18 career record through 23 games and is still searching for her first win this season.

Players to know

Emma Martin, freshman defender, No. 8 — Martin has Indiana’s lone goal this season on her only shot, which came in a 2-1 defeat at Michigan. Her two points are also the only points registered by a Hoosier this season. In addition to her offensive production, Martin has two defensive saves on the year. The New Zealand native has been a bright spot in a dark season for the Hoosiers.

Mary Kate Kesler, junior midfielder, No. 4 — Kesler has made 23 straight starts for Indiana, dating all the way back to the start of last season. Her three goals in 2019 ranked third on the team. This season, Kesler leads the team with four shots — including one on goal — while still looking to put one in the cage.

Shannon McNally, freshman goalkeeper, No. 22 — McNally has had arguably the hardest job in the entire Big Ten this season, being peppered with shots game in and game out. Despite allowing 17 goals this season, McNally has made the most saves in the conference (44) by a significant margin. The next closest keeper, Brie Barraco, only has 33 saves on the year. McNally made an extraordinary 14 saves last time out against Northwestern, a career-high.

Strength

None. With all due respect, it has been hard to find something that Indiana does well through six games. McNally has made a ton of saves in the cage, but the Hoosiers have still been outscored 17-1 on the season, losing by an average margin of 2.67 goals per game. Also, Indiana’s last conference victory was on Sept. 20, 2019. This is a young team with a young coach, and development is needed. This two-game series in College Park could be a good starting point.

Weakness

Inexperience. Indiana’s starting lineup against Northwestern in its last match only featured one senior — Sofia Keen. Keen is in her first season as a full starter, only starting 11 of 17 games in 2019. In that same starting lineup, the Hoosiers fielded a whopping five freshmen players. Kesler and junior midfielder Maddie Boehm are the only full-time returning starters in this year’s starting lineup. Junior forward Hailey Couch, who was voted to the All-Big Ten Second-Team in 2019, has yet to take the field this season.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland continue its domination over Indiana? Dating back to the first match between these two teams on Oct. 23, 2015, the Terps hold a 5-0 all-time series advantage over the Hoosiers. Maryland’s average margin of victory has been an incredible 3.2 goals, a large mark for a conference opponent. The Terps have a great opportunity this weekend to improve their record against the Hoosiers to 7-0.

“A big thing that we’ve seen is their corner plays,” Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost said. “I’m really confident in my corner defense and Brooke [DeBerdine], Riley [Donnelly], Rayne Wright, all of them...I feel confident with my group, to face them.”

2. Can Bibi Donraadt carry on her strong start to the season? From the start of the season, it was expected that junior forward Bibi Donraadt would be one of the main players filling the scoring gap left by Madison Maguire and Linda Cobano. So far, that has definitely been the case. The Netherlands product leads the team with three goals, six points and seven shots on goal this season. Donraadt scored two goals, including the game-winner, in the Terps’ 3-2 win over Penn State last Sunday.

“Goal scoring is natural for her, so I’m not surprised that she’s finishing,” Meharg said. “...But what’s really impressive is the way Bibi is receiving in the midfield, the way she has countered defending, she’s working very hard on the ball, off the ball and communication for her team, she’s becoming more like a front field general.”

3. Will the Terps carry over their home-field advantage from years past? Every sport has been significantly altered by the lack of fans in the crowd due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Maryland, this is its first home game since the virus shook the world. While Maryland will not be able to pack the stands, a limited number of family and friends will be allowed to attend. Expect this to make a difference, as it did at recent basketball games.

The Terps have not lost a game at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex since Sep. 24, 2017, against Northwestern. Maryland has won a sensational 23 straight games at home, including undefeated home seasons in 2018 and 2019.

“We’re just really fired up,” Meharg said. “I mean, I haven’t been with the team in the locker room in 17 months, so [I’m] looking forward to that.”