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No. 12 Maryland field hockey weekend preview: No. 6 Rutgers

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The Terps wrap up the regular season with a two-match series against the Scarlet Knights.

Maryland v American Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Having lost three in a row after getting swept by Michigan, Maryland field hockey looks to finish the regular season on a high note against Rutgers.

The Terps’ 6-6 record this season has come due to a series of ups and downs, including a four-game winning streak prior to the three-match slide they are on now.

“I’m very proud of the team,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “They are growing every day. Of course, as you all know, we all would love to be getting different results. However, the process and what we’re doing and the quality of training is very high, looking forward to a very good Rutgers team coming in.”

Despite losing two games to the Wolverines, Maryland only fell one spot to No. 12 in the latest edition of the NFHCA Coaches Poll. Six Big Ten teams are ranked, including this weekend’s opponent, the No. 6 Scarlet Knights.

The last time Maryland and Rutgers met, the Terps came away with a 2-1 win on Sept. 28, 2019, in Piscataway, New Jersey. That win padded Maryland’s all-time 32-3-1 record against Rutgers.

Both matches will be played at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex, with the Big Ten match coming on Thursday at 6 p.m. and the regular season finale and Senior Day on Saturday at noon. A win on Thursday could improve Maryland’s seeding for next week’s Big Ten Tournament. Both games can be seen on BTN Plus.

“It’s definitely a one game at a time mentality,” goalkeeper Noelle Frost said. “I’ve definitely learned if you start looking ahead, then you’re just going to not pay enough attention to what’s present...I know everyone on the team is focused on Rutgers. The Big Ten Tournament, it’s gonna come, but it’s not here right now, so no need to stress over it.”

Now, let’s take a look at the nation’s sixth-ranked team.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-3)

2019 record: 10-8 (4-4 Big Ten)

Head coach Meredith Civico is in her ninth season at the helm for the Rutgers field hockey program. Civico has an 84-75 career record as a head coach and has done a remarkable job turning around the Scarlet Knights program. In 2018, Civico brought Rutgers to its first NCAA Tournament in 32 years. As a player at the University of Maryland, she helped bring the Terps to three Final Fours and a 2005 national title.

“Since the minute I met [Meredith], we connect as characters, we compete very similarly,” Meharg said. “So we’ve become exceedingly good colleagues, and in fact, when Rutgers and Maryland went into the Big Ten together, we’ve always bonded and we come as a force, not only both being Terps but also both coming in together, both being East Coast schools.”

Rutgers has been dominant lately, winning four games in a row against top-10 competition. The Scarlet Knights have swept ranked teams in Penn State and Northwestern, while their only losses have come to Iowa and twice to Michigan.

Players to know

Gianna Glatz, senior goalkeeper, No. 1 — Glatz has been dominant in the cage this season, posting five shutouts and ranking second in the Big Ten with a 0.863 save percentage. Throughout her career, Glatz has been showered with both conference and national accolades. She has been named a First Team All-Big Ten selection the past two seasons while also being named a Third Team All-American in 2019. So far this season, she has been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week twice and NFHCA National Defensive Player of the Week once.

Milena Redlingshoefer, junior midfielder, No. 27 — Redlingshoefer leads the Scarlet Knights in most offensive categories this season, including goals (four), points (13) and shots (23). She is also second on the team with five assists while starting all 12 matches. The German native had the game-winning goal in overtime against Ohio State on Feb. 28 in Virginia Beach.

Katie Larmour, redshirt senior midfielder, No. 24 — Larmour, from Belfast, Ireland, has started all 12 games this season in her fifth year in the Rutgers program. Thus far, Larmour is leading the team with six assists. Also, she has added two goals and 10 points. In 2019, Larmour shined for the Scarlet Knights, earning First Team All-Big Ten and First Team All-Region honors. Larmour along with Redlingshoefer help boast a potent Rutgers offense.

Strength

Offense. This Rutgers team has an offense that can play with anyone in the Big Ten, averaging the third-most goals in the conference at 1.833 per game. The Scarlet Knights have a balanced scoring attack, as at least six players have scored double-digit goals this season. Rutgers has also had a 1.25 margin of victory this season, second in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights will pose a tough threat for a Maryland defense that has been solid this season.

“I think our defense has grown a lot,” Frost said. “We’ve definitely seen a lot of different girls in the backfield and I have 100% confidence in all my defenders. I know if I tell them to do something, they’re gonna do it...I’m really excited about my defense.”

Weakness

Generating penalty corners. Rutgers has only had 42 penalty corner attempts in 12 matches this season, which ranks seventh in the nine-team Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights are a whopping 16 corners back behind the sixth-highest team in Michigan, and the only two teams they have more corners than are winless Michigan State and Indiana. In its three-game losing streak, Maryland has given up three goals on corners. If Rutgers fails to generate them, it could be a big swing in Maryland’s favor.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland capitalize on its chances against Rutgers? Last weekend, the Terps outshot and won the penalty corner battle against Michigan. Despite that, they could only put one goal on the board in two matches and lost both of them. If Maryland continues its aggressiveness on the offensive end and draws more and more corners, there will need to be a time where Maryland has to put the ball in the back of the cage. If the Terps can continue how they played against Michigan while capitalizing with goals, they will have a successful weekend.

“Of course, detail with our attack penalty corners,” Meharg said while discussing the keys to beating Rutgers. “We have a nice little series that we have planned for Rutgers, we’ll be working on it today, worked on it yesterday and we’re working on it today.”

2. Will Brooke DeBerdine play this weekend? Although she played last Saturday against Michigan, DeBerdine was out due to injury during Sunday’s rematch. DeBerdine was also not on the sidelines for the 2-0 loss. The star midfielder and senior captain is a huge piece for this Terrapins team. Despite missing a whole game, DeBerdine still has the fifth-most minutes played on the entire team. Even though she has not scored a goal, her speed and presence alone do wonders for Maryland when she is on the field.

“I can’t wait to go to training and ask the trainer,” Meharg said Wednesday. “I don’t know right now.”

3. Can Maryland finish the season strong at home? In her 33 years leading the Maryland program, Missy Meharg has never had a losing season at home. The last year when the Terps had a losing record at home was 1981 under head coach Sue Tyler, where they went 5-7-2. Albeit a different season during the pandemic, the Terps have a 2-2 record at home with only these two games against Rutgers remaining. Maryland will have to win at least one of these matches to keep its 38-year streak of being at least .500 at home going.

“Noelle [Frost] and Kyler [Greenwalt] and Brooke [DeBerdine] and Mayv [Clune], because they’re playing in the fall, they’re going to be honored as seniors in the fall,” Meharg said. “So we are going to honor on Saturday, right before the game starts with five minutes on the clock, we’ll be honoring Bodil Keus, Hannah Bond and Hannah Menge.”