Defender Grace Balsdon provided the offensive production for the No. 6 Maryland field hockey team Thursday, scoring two goals and lifting them to a 2-1 win on the road against No. 13 Princeton.
“It was a bit of a fight, it was kind of scrappy for us,” defender Carrie Hanks said. “[Princeton] might not play the same strength of schedule as us, so when they play somebody like us they’re going to come out firing.”
Balsdon opened the scoring in the fourth minute. She beat the Princeton keeper with a low flick that snuck past the left post and hit the backboard.
That lead lasted through the evenly-played first half, but the Tigers scored shortly after intermission to tie it up.
The attack began when Princeton (3-3) took the ball away from Maryland (6-2) deep in their own territory. Though the Terps regained possession for a moment, the Tigers stole the ball back before anybody could advance it.
The ball went to midfielder Cat Caro, who weaved through some Terps and lifted the ball past goalkeeper Sarah Holliday and into the goal.
The Terps have had some second-half letdowns in the past, but they were able to re-compose themselves after the early mishap.
“When we gave up that goal we said ‘Okay we just have to be smarter about what we’re doing,'” Hanks said. “We knew we had to stay composed and play how we know and want to play.”
The teams remained even throughout the match, though the Terps had some hiccups on defense. A long pass forward rode up off the stick of defender Courtney Deena and drew a foul, despite her not facing much pressure from the Tigers.
Midfielder Anouk van Asbeck also mishandled a long Princeton pass in the backline, but again the Tigers couldn’t do anything with the ensuing attack or penalty corner.
Balsdon struck again in the 53rd minute. Maryland earned consecutive corners, and on the second, the Canterbury, England, native scored her team-leading eighth goal of the season.
Similar to her first score, Balsdon kept her shot low. But this time, she went to the right side of the goal. She nearly earned a hat trick a few minutes later, as her shot that seemed destined for the upper-right corner ricocheted off the post.
“She hit a post during warm-ups and I told her … that’s the only post she can hit today,” Hanks said. “So [in the game], I looked at her and said ‘I told you you can only hit one!’ and she laughed.”
At that point, the team was playing well enough to joke around some, but Balsdon hit the post during a time that could have been quite stressful for the Terps.
In the 56th minute, forward Olivia Reiter was given a yellow card for taking a shot after the whistle, meaning the team would be a player down for five minutes.
Usually, the referee would have issued a green-card infraction and two-minute penalty. But in the 44th minute, forward Sophie Pelzer had been given a green card for a similar type of disruptive play.
It was the team’s first yellow card of the season. The Terps adjusted to the disadvantage well, though, hardly allowing the Tigers to hold possession during that stretch.
Princeton had another opportunity thanks to a defensive misstep with just four minutes remaining. While the Tigers snuck a cross past Balsdon and onto the stick of an attacker, the shot went wide.
It was just a minor blemish on a big day for Balsdon, who has scored five goals in her past three games.
“Balsdon was really good today at hitting her spots,” Hanks said. “Once she hits those spots that we want to hit, it goes well.”