Twice in Maryland field hockey’s game against Michigan State, the Spartans bench thought they had scored a goal, only to stop celebrating when their shots didn’t find the net.
Those near-misses would have made the difference, as Maryland won 3-1 despite a strong start and early lead from the Spartans.
“The game seemed very frantic,” coach Missy Meharg said. “[It was] very fast-paced, lot of change in possession.”
Early on, though, the Spartans were on the front foot. After the Terps had a couple of chances in the first minute, Michigan State earned a penalty corner and took four shots before the 10th minute.
“I looked at the scoreboard and I think it was 5-1 in shots for them, and I’m thinking, ‘What happened? How did we get in this situation?'” Meharg said. “We let Michigan State into the circle too many times in the opening 10 minutes.”
Their fourth and fifth shots, in the ninth minute, helped give them a 1-0 lead.
Terps goalkeeper Sarah Bates easily saved the Spartans’ initial effort from the top of the circle, but the ball ricocheted straight into the air.
Michigan State forward Sophie Macadre was the first one to get to it, hitting it out of midair as Bates dove back across the cage, unable to get a touch on the shot.
That shot, however, would be the Spartans’ last of the first half.
“The scoreboard isn’t a fact until the game’s over,” Meharg said. “You just can’t get rattled.”
It took the Terps a little over three minutes to even the game back up. Midfielder Linnea Gonzales scored her seventh goal of the season after some crisp passing put the ball on her stick right in front of the cage.
Forward Emma Rissinger intercepted an errant Spartan pass in the Terps’ final third. She found midfielder Lein Holsboer just outside the circle and dished it to Gonzales.
“Lein was dribbling it in, and [forward Welma Luus] yelled at me like, ‘Get in there!” Gonzales said. “I ran for the ball and I just dodged around the goalie.”
Gonzales’ score made it 1-0. The Terps created a bevy of chances directly after that, but couldn’t finish any of them. The most notable was another result of strong passing. Midfielder Kelee Lepage had a chance off a Welma Luus cross, but Spartans goalkeeper Katie Miller saved her first-time shot, and the Spartans kept the game tied headed to halftime.
“We started off a little shaky,” Gonzales said. “In the second half we kept it together by making the simple passes and connecting.”
Along with an adjustment to formation that let the Terps keep possession, passes helped the team improve as the game went on.
“We had Lein Holsboer come back hold the belly of the field, defensively, … which is something we needed to do,” Meharg said. “She’s so much longer, she can receive [passes] through seams so I put her [back] so she can bring the ball out.”
Forward Madison Maguire gave the Terps a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a shot from the top of the circle in the 38th minute. She received a pass with her back to the goal, took a few touches, turned and fired a low shot to the right of the cage.
“It was an off-balance shot,” Maguire said.
Still, the ball went through Miller’s legs and hit the backboard.
Maguire would have two more chances to extend the Terps’ lead without a goalkeeper in her way. The first came a couple of minutes after her score, when Luus sent the ball towards the net, where Maguire and a Michigan State defender waited.
Maguire couldn’t beat the Spartan to the ball to capitalize on the opportunity.
She found redemption in the 57th minute. Miller charged toward forward Emma Rissinger, who had the ball and was charging along the baseline. She got a cross off, though, and Maguire simply tapped the ball in from around hip-height.
That insurance goal let the Terps cruise in the final 14 minutes en route to a win that puts them in a three-way tie at the top of the Big Ten standings.
“I’m very proud of Maryland,” Meharg said. “It was a very positive night.”