With less than 10 minutes left Sunday, Virginia defender Anzel Viljoen deflected the ball past Maryland field hockey goalkeeper Sarah Holliday on the team’s first shot of the second half, ending the Terps’ chances to conclude their regular season with a win.
On Friday, Maryland came back against No. 17 Northwestern after conceding a second-minute goal to win a share of the Big Ten regular season title. That win guaranteed Maryland its best regular season record since 2013.
But after falling behind early again by allowing the Cavaliers two goals in the first 10 minutes, the Terps couldn’t get back into the game. And despite Maryland dominating much of the second half, Viljoen’s late goal interrupted that momentum and carried the Cavaliers to a 3-1 win.
“It was pretty tough because we just started getting our energy back once we got our goal and we had to dig even … deeper,” forward Linnea Gonzales said. “Of course it was always possible … but it just didn’t happen today.”
After fending off the Wildcats to secure the Terps’ fourth Big Ten regular season championship to open the weekend, the Terps’ final contest of the regular season against No. 23 Virginia seemed to be an easier task. But it was anything but that for No. 2 Maryland on Sunday.
Virginia dominated possession from the opening minutes and cashed in early, striking first in the seventh minute and then doubling the advantage about two minutes later.
The Cavaliers continually intercepted Maryland’s passes, preventing the Terps from generating attack.
The Terps didn’t take their first shot until the 10th minute and didn’t muster any substantial threats until the final 10 minutes before halftime. Maryland ended the opening period trailing by two goals for the third time this season.
“We opened up weak,” coach Missy Meharg said. “Just mentally, physically, we weren’t in sync. And Virginia was very prepared to pounce on us, and they did so.”
Maryland turned its play around in the second half, applying more effective pressure and controlling the ball more as a result.
Gonzales redirected defender Bodil Keus’ pass on the left side of the circle into the back of the net in the 40th minute. But her effort, one of nine shots on target for Maryland, was the lone to reach its target.
So even though it seemed the Terps may be on the road to their second comeback victory of the week, Viljoen’s penalty corner score ensured they closed the regular season with their worst loss of the season.
“Today wasn’t our best start in terms of the first half and our connections,” Gonzales said. “Looking at this [from] a positive perspective, I think it’s good to get a loss at now than rather than in postseason.”