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Maryland field hockey capitalizes on penalty corners, defeats Indiana, 3-1

The Terps got over the hump Sunday morning after struggling throughout the season with penalty corner chances.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Head coach Missy Meharg has placed an emphasis with Maryland field hockey on capitalizing on penalty corners all season long.

After losing many skilled players from last season’s team, including Bodil Keus and Linda Cobano, it was going to take some time for chemistry to develop between the new penalty corner unit mainly consisting of Bibi Donraadt, Maura Verleg and Riley Donnelly.

On the team’s seventh corner of the game about halfway through the third quarter, it was Donraadt, from the left penalty corner attacker’s mark, who swung the ball in to Verleg at the top of the shooting circle. From there, Donnelly swept the ball with power into the bottom right corner of the cage past Indiana goalkeeper Shannon McNally to extended the Terps’ cushion to two.

Donnelly’s second goal of the game, both executed with the same penalty corner unit, helped elevate Maryland to a 3-1 win.

“I’m very, very pleased with the women,” Meharg said. “After halftime, they made the adjustment in ball speed and made better decisions with their individual defense, so they found a way to win the match, and I’m really proud of Riley for finding the net twice.”

The match started a lot more evenly than Friday’s, with both teams exchanging possession early on.

It was Indiana, just over halfway through the first quarter, that got the first real scoring look of the game. Freshman defender Emma Martin accelerated through the middle of the field and pushed the ball ahead to Meghan Dillon, with only Maryland goalkeeper Noelle Frost to beat. As seen so many times from her before, Frost charged out of the net and made a diving stop.

A few minutes later, Maryland had its first chance of the game, as Brooke DeBerdine used her electric speed through the center of Indiana’s zone and passed the ball up to Bibi Donraadt. Donraadt flung the ball on net, but McNally made a brilliant stick save to keep the game scoreless.

The first quarter ended with the score knotted at zero, and both teams only having one shot apiece.

The fifteen minutes that followed looked a lot different, with a resounding sense of urgency for both Maryland and Indiana.

About six and a half minutes into the second quarter, the Terps earned the first penalty corner of the game. The unit that worked so well for Maryland in Friday’s match struck again. Donraadt passed the ball into Verleg, who downed it for Donnelly. Donnelly sent a rocket over a diving McNally to put the Terps ahead, 1-0.

However, Indiana’s response was equally impressive. The Hoosiers earned their first penalty corner of the game with just over four minutes to go in the half after Frost made a kick save. Martin, from the left penalty corner attacker’s mark, swung the ball to Dillon, and Mary Kate Kesler strategically swept the ball into the bottom right corner of the cage, tying the match at one.

Maryland started the third quarter strong, earning four penalty corners in a row about four minutes in. McNally and the Indiana defense stood tall, though, turning away five shots — including two from Donnelly.

“We said from the first half to the second half that we wanted to get more corners because it’s a great outcome,” Donnelly said. “So we’re happy to get more now, we just need to finish more of those corners, as well.”

The Terps continued their strong play deep into the third frame, controlling the ball in Indiana territory for the majority of it.

As Brooke DeBerdine sped into the Indiana zone and swung the ball over to her sister Emma, a goal seemed like it could be on the horizon for the Terps. The younger DeBerdine made a beautiful pass between two defenders to Taylor Mason at the top of the shooting circle. Mason then made a nice move and flung the ball with her backhand into the cage, giving the Terps a 2-1 lead.

Donnelly’s goal off Maryland’s seventh corner then extended the Terps lead to 3-1, where it would stand for the rest of the third quarter.

Maryland didn’t look back from that point, continuing to control the game in the fourth. The Terps earned two more penalty corners in the quarter, though they were not able to capitalize on either.

The triumph gave Maryland the sweep over winless Indiana, improving the team’s record to 5-3 just past the halfway mark of the season.

“Your mentality and your presence when you step on that court or step on the field typically dominates and dictates the energy and the pace,” Meharg said. “Maryland can do better with that and we will.”

Three things to know

1. Indiana was much improved starting today’s match. After being outshot, 10-3, and not scoring a goal in the first half of Friday’s contest, the Hoosiers switched that story today. Indiana not only outshot Maryland, 5-3, but scored a goal off its first penalty corner, the team’s first goal since March 5 against Michigan. The Hoosiers were also connecting on passes at a much higher rate, something that was not see from them Friday.

“[Indiana] definitely, in our outlet, they clog the center of the field really well, which made it difficult for us to get the ball up the field sometimes,” Donnelly said. “They have a lot of speedy forwards on their forward line who were really trying to manipulate us when we break free, so that was good for them.”

2. Maryland did not play with great discipline in the first half. The Terps were charged with three green cards in the first half, more than they had in every single game aside from February 28th’s 2-1 loss to Northwestern. Terp fans have not been accustomed to seeing Maryland charged with so many cards this season, but fortunately for the Terps, the one-player disadvantages did not come back to haunt them.

“I always worry about teams when you’re not getting cards,” Meharg said. “It just means you’re not that aggressive, probably. So in that regard, there is some positive to it...but the key thing is to control what you can and that is your balance.”

3. The Terps are capitalizing on penalty corners at a very high rate. In Friday’s 5-0 win over the Hoosiers, the Terps scored their first two goals on penalty corners, a welcoming sight for head coach Missy Meharg. Maryland continued their dominant play on penalty corners Sunday, earning 9 in total, and scoring its first and third goals on corner opportunities.

“I think Riley and the women, every day we’re getting better and better in training,” Meharg said. “We have started to have, at least on Friday and today, we’re scoring on penalty corners, so you always want to increase that percentage of scoring on your corners, but the first step is to score some, so we’re in a good place.”