Maryland field hockey forward Madison Maguire sprinted into the shooting circle late in the fourth quarter, hoping to get her stick on one more chance.
Maguire had already seen two of her shots ripple the net, adding an assist as well.
But it was Senior Day, and the Rumson, New Jersey, native wanted to mark it with a memorable performance. So once Kelee Lepage’s pass reached her, Maguire made sure a hat trick wasn’t going to slip from her grasp, slotting home the chance.
The dominant performance capped off a successful Senior Day on Friday, with the No. 2 Terps claiming a 5-1 victory over Michigan State to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
“We [had] to show Michigan State how we play — the Big Ten how we play,” Maguire said. “We capitalized on that.”
From the opening pass-back, the Terps looked dangerous, rattling off seven shots in the first five minutes of the game.
“We played an exceptional brand of hockey,” coach Missy Meharg said, “[we] would’ve liked to get on the board a little bit earlier with some of the shot opportunities we had.”
And Maryland was rewarded for its high intensity, with Maguire rocketing an effort into the bottom corner for her team-leading 10th goal of the season.
Despite the disparity in shot totals, Maryland was unable to add to its edge, with Spartans goalkeeper Jade Arundell making a series of acrobatic saves to deny the Terps of a more commanding lead.
“Michigan State is a great team,” Maguire said, “They came out with a lot of pressure.”
Meharg’s squad continued to pepper Arundell’s cage in the second frame, eventually finding a second breakthrough off the work of Emma and Brooke DeBerdine. Brooke carried the ball into the shooting circle before flicking a shot toward Arundell’s cage.
While the Spartans netminder was equal to DeBerdine’s effort, the loose rebound found Emma, who summarily fired home into the empty net.
Defensively, Maryland had spent much of the week working on its structure and shape, looking to limit the space it afforded to the opposition’s attack.
And through two quarters, Meharg’s squad looked refreshed and confident in that aspect of the game, limiting the Spartans to two shots.
After winning the shot battle, 17-2, in the first half, the only complaint Maryland could have was that it had only two goals to show for it.
So as the third frame commenced, the Terps continued to fire away in the hopes of ballooning their lead.
“We changed up some formations and I think that worked for us,” Meharg said. “We … let them play into us more, so we had more space to counterattack. That tactic opened up the players’ skills.”
And six minutes into the period, Maryland’s lead had swelled to four. Lepage drove deep into Spartans territory, forcing Arundell to engage. And as soon as Arundell committed to Lepage, she deftly swept the ball to a wide-open Maguire, who subsequently tapped the ball toward cage before forward Mayv Clune got the final touch to secure the goal.
“We always talk about starting the second half just as strong the first, if not stronger,” Lepage said. “I feel like we’re getting [more] momentum.”
Maguire was the hub of Maryland’s attacking threat, recording four shots in the game. And shortly after Clune’s goal, Maguire added her second of the match, delicately controlling Brooke DeBerdine’s cross before swinging the ball into the bottom left corner.
“I got a lot of good balls in the circle,” Maguire said. “[I’m proud of] my teammates because they got the ball open for me.”
Seconds later, it was the Spartans who were on the scoresheet, though, as forward Aisha Osinga lifted the ball above goalkeeper Noelle Frost to end Maryland’s streak of home shutouts at three games.
But the Terps kept plugging away as the game descended to its conclusion, with Maguire eventually securing her elusive third goal to cap a four-goal victory and at least a share of a second-consecutive Big Ten regular-season title.
“The outcome puts us in first place and I’m really proud of our staff and our team,” Meharg said. “[We’ll] be ready to head up to State College, [Pennsylvania] for the [Big Ten] tournament.”