As the dust settled on Maryland field hockey’s 5-1 win over Richmond on Friday, coach Missy Meharg pulled captains Bodil Keus and Jen Bleakney to the side.
Coming into the Terps’ season opener against the Spiders, the team had emphasized its hope for an opening day clean sheet. However, those hopes were dashed within five minutes, as Richmond’s Addie Nash capitalized off sloppy play from Maryland’s backline to cancel out defender Riley Donnelly’s opener.
And while No. 2 Maryland impressed throughout the remainder of the game, Meharg felt the Terps had some room for improvement, especially with matchups against ACC powerhouses Duke and Boston College on the horizon after a contest with New Hampshire on Sunday.
“Do I think that’s a team that we should not give up a shot to? I do,” Meharg said. “That’s what we’re going to work on as we prepare for Sunday.”
Heading into the game, the Terps were without Keus, who started the game from the bench after suffering an injury on Thursday. However, Donnelly filled in admirably for the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, taking up Keus’ position on the point during penalty corners.
Two minutes into the game, the sophomore rifled a shot into the cage from Bibi Donraadt’s corner delivery, putting the Terps up 1-0.
“It’s definitely a big confidence boost for me,” Donnelly said.
The Terps kept the pressure on, forcing a series of impressive saves from Richmond goalkeeper Frankie Conklin. However, Richmond found its way back into the game, upping the pressure on Maryland’s backline before eventually equalizing through Nash’s effort.
“We really focused on the two minutes after … their goal,” midfielder Kyler Greenwalt said. “[We were] focusing on how we could get another point on the board.”
And the Terps responded quickly, with Syracuse transfer Jen Bleakney opening her Maryland scoring account with a long-range effort just inside the shooting circle.
Meharg’s squad looked much more composed in the second quarter, with midfielder Emma Deberdine’s pace and skillful stickhandling helping the Terps stretch Richmond’s midfield and defense. Deberdine’s rapid development over the course of preseason has impressed her teammates, and her performance Friday served as yet another reminder of the freshman’s ability.
“Emma Deberdine was a spark up front,” Meharg said, “in the way that she can get past defenders and get on the baseline.”
Maryland’s attack continued to overwhelm the Richmond defense, with the Terrapins outshooting the Spiders 7-4 in the second period. Keus fired a shot past Conklin from just inside the circle, pushing Maryland’s lead to 3-1.
Kyler Greenwalt was threatening the Richmond backline all game, and marked her return from last season’s torn ACL with a clever far post finish to push the Terps’ lead to 4-1.
“I was playing left mid, so I just thought … ‘I gotta get in the circle for support,’” Greenwalt said. “It was just like memory, I mean I just swung my stick and it happened to go in.”
Maryland was unable to show off its attacking talent in the third quarter, mustering one shot in the period. However, the Terps’ defense continued to exhibit its solidity, holding Richmond to three shots.
With a 4-1 lead heading into the fourth quarter, Meharg’s squad was in command. And the game was officially sealed when Greenwalt put away a rebound from a Madison Maguire backhand.
While the Terps were unable to keep a clean sheet on Friday, the team enters into Sunday’s matchup against New Hampshire aware of its mistakes and looking to correct them.
“What we can take from this game — in the second quarter — is to possess the ball,” Meharg said. “And to not be too impatient … so there’s a lot to take from the game.”