The No. 6 Maryland field hockey team scored first but couldn’t hang on against defending national champion Syracuse. The Orange tied the game just before halftime and added three more scores in the second half to win, 4-1, Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.
The Terps dominated play in the first period, though they failed to sustain their control after the break.
“The outcome is exceedingly disappointing for our players,” coach Missy Meharg said. “We opened the match playing the kind of hockey we’ve been working hard on . . . but then we kind of fell away.”
Midfielder Grace Balsdon opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game on a penalty stroke, the Terps’ first of the season, for her third goal of the year.
From there, the Terps took six shots in about eight minutes without allowing the Orange to get a shot off. Maryland also drew a green card on Syracuse defender Lies Lagerweij.
“We started off really positively, and we had some great attacking play,” Balsdon said. “We were linking very well together. It was brilliant.”
Still, Maryland (1-1) couldn’t capitalize on the looks.
Their 1-0 lead almost lasted until halftime, but the Orange scored off of a penalty corner in the 30th minute. Despite trailing 9-4 in shots, Syracuse managed to tie the game at intermission.
“We’d been playing well, so when they scored against the run of play, I think it shocked us a bit,” Balsdon said. “Then, the energy dropped.”
Syracuse carried the momentum into the second half, scoring less than two minutes into play. The Orange extended their lead to 3-1 in the 50th minute on a goal that bounced in off sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Holliday’s glove.
“We started chasing the ball and playing on our heels,” Meharg said.
Holliday again split time in the cage with Penn State transfer Sarah Bates, a redshirt junior who played the last 16 minutes. Holliday made five saves and allowed three goals, while Bates allowed one goal and made four saves.
“They’re both really good — we’re so lucky to have Holliday and Bates as our [goalkeepers],” Meharg said. “We felt Holliday made some atypical mistakes today and wasn’t as focused, and we’re fortunate that we have the depth to give her the rest she needed.”
Meharg expects the netminder competition to continue and will divide playing time based on who she feels gives her team the best chance to win.
In the defensive circle, meanwhile, Meharg said her team would “have to be better” to beat Syracuse after it surrendered four corners against St. Joseph’s on Friday. The Terps limited the Orange to three corners Sunday, though Syracuse capitalized on two.
“We had young players in there and we’re playing a different corner defense against Syracuse than St. Joe’s,” Meharg said. “We have work to do on our corner defense.”
One positive takeaway Meharg acknowledged in the defeat was the Terps’ shooting margin. While Maryland struggled to generate looks in the second half, registering six over the final 35 minutes, four of their shots came in the last six minutes, and they finished the game with 14 attempts to Syracuse’s 15.
Plus, Balsdon said the Terps earning four penalty corners to the Orange’s three was a positive sign from what the team hopes will be a learning experience in facing one of the nation’s top teams in their second game of the campaign.
“I’m more concerned with the statistics from the match than the outcome,” Meharg said. “It’s early.”