No. 12 Maryland field hockey needed a win today to complete a sweep over No. 6 Rutgers and retain its 38-year streak of over-.500 field hockey at home.
With the match tied at one and just over three minutes to play, the Terps and the Scarlet Knights seemed destined for overtime. Maryland was threatening late, though, and had a chance to wrap it up before regulation finished.
Pouncing in front of Rutgers goalkeeper Gianna Glatz, midfielder Emma DeBerdine had a clean look at the goal. Glatz made the save with the top of her pad, but midfielder Kyler Greenwalt was there for the rebound. Greenwalt made an absolutely sensational play, getting on top of the ball and knocking it right in front of the empty net. Forward Bibi Donraadt was there for the tap-in, and her goal gave the Terps the 2-1 victory.
“Not a better way to finish a regular season,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “Back at home against a top, I think, five or six team, a very, very good team. I couldn’t be more proud of the women for coming back.”
A beautiful spring day in College Park, it was the regular season finale between the Terps and the Scarlet Knights, with Maryland honoring three players from last season’s roster on its Senior Day.
The Terps almost struck first just three minutes in, as a cross from midfielder Belle Bressler into the middle of the shooting circle went off the stick of forward Mayv Clune and dinged off the crossbar.
Maryland continued to dominate early, and it paid dividends soon after. With just over eight minutes left in the first quarter, forward/midfielder Anna Castaldo fired a pass from deep on the right side of Rutgers shooting circle towards the net. Clune, just feet in front of Castaldo, whacked the ball out of midair and into the bottom right corner of the net. Clune earned her first goal of the season, giving the Terps an early 1-0 lead.
While the first quarter ended with each team having only one shot apiece, Maryland dominated, controlling possession for most of the period and winning 1-0 at the end of it.
Castaldo continued her strong play early into the second quarter, firing off a lively shot from a tough angle just seconds in that was pushed away by Glatz.
Rutgers earned the first penalty corner of the game with 10 and a half minutes to play in the second frame. Midfielder Milena Redlingshoefer had a clean look at the cage, but it was forcefully knocked down by the glove of goalkeeper Noelle Frost for her first save of the game.
Maryland responded about four minutes later with a penalty corner of its own — its first of the match. Donraadt’s corner was set by midfielder Nathalie Fiechter for Clune, whose look at her second goal of the game was blocked before it could reach the net. DeBerdine recovered the rebound, and while her shot was stopped by defender Abby Regn, the sequence resulted in a penalty stroke.
Defender Riley Donnelly — who had been perfect on the season with three goals in three penalty stroke attempts — stepped up to the plate once again for the Terps. However, Glatz made an incredible diving save, keeping the Scarlet Knights’ deficit at one with just over five minutes to play in the half.
A much more even 15 minutes, the second quarter wrapped up with Maryland still leading Rutgers, 1-0.
The Scarlet Knights came out with a sense of urgency in the third quarter, earning their second penalty corner of the game just over two minutes into the period. Redlingshoefer had another great look at the cage, but her low shot speeded left of it.
Neither team could generate much in the third, with Redlingshoefer’s shot being the only one in the quarter. Maryland retained its 1-0 lead heading into the final frame.
Just over five minutes into the fourth quarter, the Scarlet Knights earned their third penalty corner of the match. A play nearly identical to the one seen in the third, Redlingshoefer’s shot flew wide right of the cage, as the Maryland defense stood tall.
Following a sequence in the Maryland shooting circle, Rutgers earned a penalty stroke of its own with under eight minutes to go in regulation. Redlingshoefer had a golden opportunity to even the match at one and made sure to capitalize on it. As Frost dove right, Redlingshoefer rifled one into the left side of the cage, and the game was suddenly knotted at one.
“We got that stroke against us, and we were all like...we’d stay positive,” Donraadt said. “We just knew that we were gonna bring it home.”
Just seconds later, Rutgers earned another penalty corner. Liz Romano initially fumbled the pass, but her hard shot at the cage was saved by a lunging Frost. While Frost made the save, the Scarlet Knights earned an ensuing corner opportunity. This time, it was defender Maura Verleg who stopped the shot from reaching the cage.
The Scarlet Knights earned a third consecutive try seemingly right after the second, but Frost showed why she is one of the Big Ten’s best, making another stop on Romano.
“I’m looking at our stats, I can’t applaud Noelle Frost enough,” Meharg said. “I mean this is, with the number of corners they got, especially that string of four of them in a row in the fourth quarter, you know, and the way these guys read the hard corner defensive unit was unbelievable.”
Maryland earned just its second penalty corner of the game with about 4 and a half minutes to go in regulation after Rayne Wright fired the ball into the circle and off a Rutgers defender’s foot. Donnelly had a chance to give the Terps the lead, but her low shot was saved impressively by Glatz.
The Terps continued to threaten late, and it was ultimately Donraadt’s goal that gave Maryland the victory and the sweep. Maryland wraps up the regular season at 8-6 and will face Iowa in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament Wednesday.
“We couldn't be going into the tournament playing a better brand of hockey in all of 2020 and ‘21, to be honest,” Meharg said. “It’s been a long year, and we’re all in it from start to finish, and again, it’s a positive mindset. It’s been a positive mindset from the beginning.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland was shorthanded for the third straight match. Senior midfielder Brooke DeBerdine missed Thursday’s match against Rutgers and last Sunday’s contest against Michigan with an injury. The captain has been a rock for Maryland since her freshman campaign in 2017, starting every game except one before her injury. DeBerdine was eighth in minutes played on the team entering the match, despite missing two whole games. It is extremely impressive what the Terps have done with one of their star players missing.
“Of course not having Brooke on the field is a big loss,” Donraadt said. “She’s such a great player, but also you know she’s an actual captain when she’s also making us better while she’s on the sideline and making comments, giving us great advice, coming up to you one to one and telling you what to do...that’s what a real captain does. She’s your captain on and off the field.”
2. The Terps did not need penalty corners to beat Rutgers today. Converting on penalty corners has been such a common theme for head coach Missy Meharg and Maryland all season. Thursday’s win over Rutgers proved that message, as three of the team’s four goals against the Scarlet Knights were off penalty corner opportunities. Today, Maryland only earned two corners the whole game, and both of its goals happened during the run of play.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we’re able to score [on] center situations, penalty corners, and also have normal field goals,” Donraadt said. “Both of the situations are, of course, totally team goals, which is also kind of fun that we were able to score together today.”
3. Maryland suddenly has momentum heading into the Big Ten tournament. After losing three matches in a row prior to its homestand with Rutgers, the Terps badly needed to make something happen before next week’s Big Ten tournament. While Thursday’s victory was the one that gave the Terps the No. 4 seed in the tournament, Saturday’s win gave Maryland some much-needed momentum. With only a 12-team NCAA Tournament this season with only two at-large bids, the Terps will need to be playing their best hockey of the season to qualify, and it appears they are on the right track.