With just under nine minutes to play in the third period of action, No. 13 Maryland field hockey surrendered its fifth penalty corner of the game, following one from 14 seconds before.
Iowa forward Maddy Murphy inserted the ball to midfielder Ellie Holley, who left it perfectly for defender Anthe Nijziel. Nijziel lifted the ball over a diving Noelle Frost and into the back of the cage.
Holley and Nijziel embraced with a hug, knowing their play had just given No. 2 Iowa its first lead and first goal since March 28. The goal proved to be the difference-maker in a 3-0 Hawkeye win.
“I think we stayed in it,” Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. “But we lacked some chemistry and some communication early which really separated our scenes.”
With two outstanding defenses facing off for the second time this weekend, it was clear from the jump that this was going to be another tough battle.
Just like Friday, it appeared that the first goal could dictate who would be the winner. Iowa was threatening as the third quarter began, playing a much more aggressive brand of hockey than it did in the previous fixture.
Maryland earned the first chance of the match about 20 seconds in. Midfielder Brooke DeBerdine, streaking down the field, received a long pass from defender Maura Verleg. Her shot was saved by goaltender Grace McGuire, giving the Hawkeyes a quick chance to respond.
Iowa earned its first penalty corner just over three minutes into the match, matching its total from the entirety of Friday’s contest. Nijziel’s shot was blocked before it could reach the net.
Maryland’s defense — led by star goalkeeper Noelle Frost — stood strong, as Frost had two saves in the quarter. Neither team was able to capitalize on their early chances, as the first quarter wrapped up scoreless.
Iowa seemed a lot more aggressive in this match, earning its second penalty corner of the game three and a half minutes into the second quarter. Off an insert from Murphy, Nijziel’s second shot of the game was knocked away by an off-balance Frost.
After a video review, Iowa was awarded another penalty corner immediately after. Murphy’s shot was blocked and deflected over the cage, as the Maryland defense continued to withstand Iowa’s attack.
Neither the Hawkeyes nor the Terps were able to generate too much for the rest of the quarter, as both defenses prevailed in a 0-0 half.
Just like the first quarter, the Terps earned the first chance of the third. Midfielder Emma DeBerdine had possession on the right side of the shooting circle looking to connect with forward Mayv Clune on a cross, but the two were unable to link up on the play.
Unfortunately for Maryland, it was unable to build some momentum from the play, and Iowa was still lurking.
After consecutive penalty corners, it was Nijziel’s goal on the fifth one that put the Hawkeyes in front.
“A little bit of a learning curve today during critical times against a very good team,” Meharg said. “We’re only better for it.”
The Hawkeyes continued to put pressure on Maryland, appearing to score a second goal on their sixth penalty corner minutes later. The goal was waved off, and the match stayed put at 1-0.
Iowa continued its strong play into the fourth. Murphy made a swift backhanded move into the shooting circle and fired off an absolute rocket past Frost into the right side of the cage to make it a 2-0 Hawkeyes lead.
Feeling a sense of urgency down 2-0, Meharg pulled Frost from the cage to give the Terps an extra player with 12 minutes to go.
“This is new for us in the NCAA because it’s new in the FIH to play with 11 field players,” Meharg said. “I think you have to practice it. The difference between a 3-0 game and a 2-0 game is tying it and winning it [which is] very, very difficult with a three-goal difference.”
It paid dividends quickly, as the Terps earned their first penalty corner of the game just seconds after. Maryland got two great looks off the corner, but midfielder Harper Dunne made a great block on a shot from defender Riley Donnelly.
With three and a half minutes to play and no goalie for Maryland, Iowa earned its seventh penalty corner of the game. Midfielder/defender Lokke Stribos had a clear look at the goal, and her shot was deflected by Murphy and up and into the back of the cage. The third goal was the icing on the cake for the Hawkeyes, closing out a strong bounce-back performance.
“We definitely can come out more collective and more united, which is something I think [we were] missing today,” defender Rayne Wright said. “But, that’s no problem because when we get home, I think we’ll be having a good week of practice and then coming together and being strong.”
Three things to know
1. Iowa controlled the first half of play. Despite not scoring, Iowa had the much better play in the first 30 minutes. The Terps were only able to get off one shot in the entire half compared to Iowa’s six, three of which were on goal. The Hawkeyes also earned three penalty corners, compared to the Terps’ zero. Iowa was also connecting on passes at a much smoother rate. However, credit must be given to Maryland’s defense for holding strong and playing its fourth scoreless half in a row.
“They definitely came out with some revenge, of course,” Wright said. “I think that they just were looking for the long balls and strong balls, so it was for us to cut off and I think that we could have done better on that.”
2. Losing the penalty corner battle may have cost the Terps. The game-deciding goal for the Hawkeyes was off a penalty corner. It was the fifth of seven such plays for Iowa in this one. The Terps were not able to earn a single penalty corner until they pulled Frost in the fourth quarter. While it may not be the deciding factor, it is definitely a key storyline that swung in favor of the Hawkeyes.
3. Iowa has defeated Maryland for the first time since 1994. One would have to go back nearly 10,000 days to find the last time Iowa defeated Maryland before today. It was September 10, 1994, when the Hawkeyes defeated the Terps, 1-0. Maryland has had a continued stretch of dominance over the Hawkeyes, but this is arguably the best Iowa team Maryland has faced since joining the conference.
“It’s interesting coming from… the Atlantic Coast Conference and knowing that the Big Ten didn’t have the same brand,” Meharg said. “That has changed significantly. Both the leagues, I think, are the top two leagues in the nation. We go about, what, six deep in this league that are all top 20, maybe even top 10.”