Toward the end of the first half in Friday’s win over Ohio State, Maryland field hockey goalkeeper Noelle Frost stood in the cage as the Buckeyes lined up for one of their 10 penalty corners.
After the insertion was fed toward the center of the shooting circle, Ohio State’s strong offense set up a drag toward the net. And just like she’s done throughout her Terps career, Frost watched it closely. She noticed it was deflected. So, she dropped to the pitch, extended her right arm and knocked the ball away from the cage.
This was one of six saves Frost made in Friday’s match en route to her second shutout of the season. The graduate student opted to return to the team this spring for her final season of eligibility. And the team is glad she did.
“I just really trust Noelle being back there,” forward Bibi Donraadt said.
It’s not easy to let no shots cross the line in a Big Ten field hockey match. That was definitely the case Friday, as the Buckeyes’ attack peppered her with 10 total shots.
But Frost isn’t the only one trying to keep the ball out of the cage. Having a sturdy defense in front of the netminder is a major team effort, and Frost credited that whole unit in mitigating Ohio State’s strong attack.
“I know my job, and they executed it perfectly,” Frost said. “Everyone in the unit was just very collected.”
And it’s not just the defense trying to prevent an opponent from reaching the back of the cage.
When a team has players who can apply pressure on the attack at the top of the circle, like Maryland midfielder Brooke DeBerdine, the opponent must be exceptional in its decision-making, coach Missy Meharg said.
“They don’t have a lot of time, and she is so quick and she’s so tenacious,” Meharg said. “That puts the goalkeeping and then the defenders behind in position to … step up and take care of their pockets.”
Through her first four matches, Frost has earned a save percentage of .818, turning away 18 total shots. Her pair of shutouts ranks second in the Big Ten.
In every match this season, Frost’s save total has increased. After her six-save performance against Ohio State, the Glenwood native turned away seven Northwestern shots on Sunday.
“In the corner that was scored on, it was very well-executed and almost impossible for her to get out and step up a little bit higher,” Meharg said about the Wildcats’ first goal.
But Frost has excelled, and as the Terps head north for two meetings with Penn State, she hopes her third clean sheet is not far off.
“We really need her,” Donraadt said. “I’m really happy she’s there.”