Without defender Nike Lorenz, it was unclear how No. 3 Maryland field hockey’s attack would function with its leading scorer absent against the Terps’ third consecutive ranked opponent.
Before facing No. 12 Delaware, Lorenz needed to return to Germany to attend a funeral, leaving Maryland without a key contributor. But her teammates quickly filled the gap Lorenz vacated.
The Terps immediately launched a strong attack against the Blue Hens and didn’t let the ball leave their offensive end of the field for much of the first 10 minutes of the contest. And just 3:40 into the game, defender Kelee Lepage gave Maryland the lead, scoring on an early penalty corner.
The Terps scored two more goals in the first half, with only one from Delaware, for their best start against a ranked team en route to a 5-3 victory.
“[Lorenz] is a great, great asset for our team definitely, but we know how to back ourselves up when she’s out,” defnder Bodil Keus said. “I know she has really good skills and it helps us a lot, but when she’s out we are able to pick that up.”
With the win, Maryland extends its winning streak to six games, still without a loss on the season.
But it wasn’t easy sailing for the entire game. Delaware gained some momentum in the second half to score two goals in less than two minutes. While the Blue Hens brought the game within one score at the 50:24 mark for the first time since the opening minutes, Maryland held its advantage for the remainder of the matchup.
“On that moment there was a lack of communication,” Keus said. “I know we worked hard this week on communication and we [saw] that in the first half it went really well, but then when the ball came up the communication kind of fell down.”
The Terps regained their footing and stopped Delaware’s momentum from building any further with a goal from Keus eight minutes later, assisted by midfielder Madison Maguire and Lepage.
Lepage played a key role for Maryland throughout the contest. The defender had a hand in three of Maryland’s five goals in the contest, scoring one goal and notching two assists.
“Kelee is just an all-around player,” Meharg said. “She came in here scoring a lot of goals out of high school, she’s played at the U.S. level…One of the nice things about Kelee Lepage is she just services whatever her team needs.”
Forward Sabrina Rhodes also provided a strong showing for the Terps. She scored a goal and helped Maryland outshoot Delaware, attempting five shots.
Maryland didn’t allow Delaware a shot until 14:42 into the contest, and only allowed the team six shots on goal and 11 total. Maryland ended with 17 shots and 13 on goal.