It was a tale of two halves in Maryland field hockey’s second match of the spring 2021 season.
After earning seven penalty corners in the first quarter and jumping out to a 1-0 lead at the break, Northwestern found the cage 38 seconds into the second half and quickly shifted momentum onto its side.
Another third quarter goal pushed the Terps to their first deficit of the season as the Wildcats stormed past Maryland, 2-1.
The Terps took their first loss of the season in a match where they fired 11 shots and tallied 10 penalty corners.
“Penalty corners are about speed of execution and accuracy,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “And it’s just — we’re not good enough yet. And we need to be.”
Northwestern (2-0), which also topped Michigan State this weekend, couldn’t get much offense going early.
On the sixth of the seven first quarter penalty corner attempts, defender Riley Donnelly launched a shot into the back of the cage to give the Terps (1-1) an early lead.
Donnelly has collected four points this season already, as she assisted on both goals scored in Friday’s victory.
“She’s really an impactful player,” captain Brooke DeBerdine said. “But then also, just her control and her confidence with attacking forward has been really good for us, and she’s making a lot happen.”
Maryland continued its strong offensive attack throughout the first half. Though Meharg said she anticipated this being a much more evenly matched battle than its Friday competition against Michigan State, the Terps looked dominant early.
It took until the second quarter for Northwestern to pick up a penalty corner of its own. And about 20 seconds after it missed the shot, Maryland responded with yet another corner — but the Terps couldn’t convert.
But Northwestern showed many flashes of life early, and goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz was stellar — tallying five saves and letting in just one goal from a strong Maryland attack.
“All in all, I applaud Northwestern,” Meharg said. “They were very strong, very opportunistic and found a way to come from behind and win.”
The Wildcats came out of the halftime intermission ready to try and knot the match up quickly. And so they did.
Thirty-eight seconds after they switched sides and began to shoot from left to right, forward Mackenzie Keegan bounced a shot past Noelle Frost and into the cage. The Delran, New Jersey, native notched her first goal of the season and tied the match up at one apiece.
Suddenly, it was the Wildcats who were in control. Redshirt sophomore forward Bente Baekers dished a pass off to sophomore midfielder Peyton Halsey, who knocked in her team-high third goal of the season. With that, Northwestern took a 2-1 lead and Maryland found itself facing a deficit for the first time of the season.
“I think our temperament was a little immature in the third and fourth quarter at times, which causes some cards and player down situations,” Meharg said.
But Meharg’s squad wasn’t going away easily. Frost kept the Terps in it, stopping a few late Northwestern penalty corner attempts as it tried to extend its lead.
“I thought Noelle Frost did have some great saves, so there’s a bonus as well,” Meharg said.
Still, not much was going Maryland’s way in the fourth. With about five minutes left, Meharg lost a challenge on a Wildcats’ penalty corner.
Meharg watched on as the Terps struggled to get the ball up the pitch, failing to string together a single shot in the final frame. And although Maryland started the game brightly, it was left to rue its earlier misses, failing to test a solid Northwestern backline as it sank to defeat.
“Fortunately, we get to play again against Northwestern here one week from today,” Meharg said. “So, we look forward to that.”