In the early going, it was apparent Maryland field hockey was going to dictate the way Friday’s match was played. With the team was relentlessly pressuring Indiana’s zone, it was a only a matter of time until the Terps struck first.
A little over 12 and a half minutes into the game, Maryland earned its second penalty corner opportunity of the game. Junior forward Bibi Donraadt crisply passed the ball inbounds, which was downed by sophomore midfielder Belle Bressler. Sophomore defender — and University of New Hampshire transfer — Maura Verleg had a great look at the cage. She swept the ball swiftly into the bottom left corner of the cage, and Verleg had her first goal in a Maryland uniform.
Verleg’s first quarter goal gave the Terps all the momentum it needed and they never looked back from there in the 5-0 victory.
“Our energy, our dominance, you could tell that the opportunity from 17 months ago to be back on this field and to play the brand that Maryland plays,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “I’m very proud of the women.”
Indiana earned the first penalty corner of the game just over three minutes in as the ball deflected off freshman defender Rayne Wright’s foot and out of bounds. Junior midfielder Mary Kate Kesler had a look for the Hoosiers, but Frost made a nice stick save.
Indiana freshman goalkeeper Shannon McNally was solid in the first quarter, making one save, but was unable to keep up with the Terps’ pressure, conceding the first goal of the game on Maryland’s second corner chance.
“I think it’s great because we did something different than Indiana expected us to do,” Verleg said on her goal. “They expected Riley [Donnelly] to drag or hit...and I think because they didn’t expect it, that it worked.”
The Hoosiers came out with a much greater sense of urgency in the second quarter. About a minute in, forward/midfielder Anna Gwiazdzinski received a pass speeding out on what appeared to be a break away. Like we saw in past games, Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost stormed out of the cage and made a diving stop.
Indiana’s second penalty corner of the game ensued right after, but the Hoosiers were unable to get a shot off. Gwiazdzinski had another shot as the Hoosiers still possessed the ball, but this one went off the post.
While the Hoosiers’ start to the quarter was encouraging, they were not able to build on it, as a barrage of Maryland goals shortly followed.
Even though the Terps were not able to capitalize on their third penalty corner chance of the game — as Donraadt’s shot slid under the stomach of McNally and wide of the net — the story was not the same for the fourth.
With 4:15 to go in the first half and Donraadt passing the ball in from the left penalty corner attacker’s mark, defender Riley Donnelly had a good look at the net. Her shot was saved by McNally, but the Hoosiers defense was unable to clear. Donraadt, off her own corner, lifted the ball over a helpless McNally, and brought the Terps’ lead to two.
“We’ve worked so hard these past few weeks,” Verleg said. “Especially on penalty corners, and they got better every week.”
Just 33 seconds later, forward/midfielder Anna Castaldo fired off a shot from the right entry point of the shooting circle which was knocked away by McNally. Midfielder Kyler Greenwalt was in the right place at the right time, as she used her impeccable stick work to bounce the ball past McNally after she just made the save on Castaldo, making Maryland’s lead three.
If three first half goals were not enough, Maryland earned a penalty stroke with five seconds to go in the half. Donnelly stepped up to the plate and buried the ball in the right side of the net, ballooning the lead to 4-0 at halftime. The goal was Donnelly’s second off a penalty stroke this season.
Maryland continued to come out firing as the second half started. Greenwalt had a great shot at the cage just one minute and 20 seconds in, but it went wide of the net.
The Terps also earned four more penalty corners in the first six minutes of the half, but were unable to capitalize.
Indiana had a chance to cut the lead to three with just five seconds remaining in the third period and the ball in Maryland territory, but Frost came out of the cage to make a sliding stop on junior forward Peyton Becker.
The third quarter closed with Maryland dominating and holding a 4-0 advantage.
With the Terps in the driver's seat and a quarter to play, sophomore goaltender Christina Calandra got to check in for her first minutes of the season.
Other Terps who had not seen much playing time this year also got to play some Big Ten minutes, including sophomore forwards Margot Lawn and Megan Mulney.
Castaldo put the finishing touches on this one, rifling off a shot from the right side of the shooting circle which went past McNally and into the back of the net. The goal was Castaldo’s first of her young career.
It was quite simply a dominant performance for the Terps, who had a grand total of 17 shots in this one.
“I’m just super pleased,” Meharg said. “I think what’s so fun about this whole setup this spring is to have doubleheaders and it really gives the players an opportunity to think about their experience tonight, and we get to play the same team right out here Sunday morning.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland set the tone in this game from the very start. The Terps came out and pressured Indiana relentlessly to start the match, and their strategy worked to perfection. Maryland exposed a young Indiana defense, controlling the ball for basically the entire first half. It showed in the box score, too, as the Terps had 10 shots and a four-goal lead at halftime.
2. The Terps were much improved on penalty corners. In Maryland’s two-game series at Penn State last weekend, it only had five corners in total, including only one in its win and three in the waning minutes of its 3-0 loss. The Terps surpassed that total from last weekend just less than six minutes into the third quarter Friday, a massive and welcomed change in play. Not only was Maryland generating chances, but it was capitalizing on them too, as its first two goals of the game came off penalty corners. The Terps finished with eight corners.
“We work hard on penalty corners and we do them a lot in series,” Meharg said. “...It’s so funny because we’ve been hitting so much in training sessions, and we’re all looking at each other like, ‘when are we going to score some of these goals in game?’ I’m not surprised, I knew it would come.”
3. Maryland remains unbeaten against Indiana. The Terrapins improved to 7-0 against the Hoosiers since joining the Big Ten Conference. It was yet another tough performance for Indiana, who only registered five shots and never really had any control over the match. The Hoosiers, who fall to 0-7, get another crack for its first win against Maryland this Sunday.
“I think that Indiana is much improved,” Meharg said. “They really put us under some fire at the beginning and held us at bay for a long time. You know a 1-0 game in field hockey is nothing, so to get that string going was contagious and really felt good.”