Mayv Clune crept in front of the cage seven minutes into Maryland field hockey’s 2-1 win over Rutgers when Anna Castaldo sent a sharp pass from just inside the circle toward her.
Clune, a step in front of her defender, watched Castaldo the whole way. The redshirt junior saw the ball rolling toward her and smacked it through a small hole left open by Scarlet Knights’ goalkeeper Gianna Glatz.
Clune had yet to score a goal this season — and she put the Terps on the board against a top 10 opponent.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we’re able to score in standard situations, like penalty corners, and also have normal field goals,” forward Bibi Donraadt said.
In Thursday’s 4-2 win over No. 6 Rutgers, No. 12 Maryland capitalized on penalty corner opportunities — three of its four scores came off corners. The Terps struggled to score on penalty corners earlier in the season, but once they were able to consistently do it, it led to the team’s second-highest offensive output of the season.
On Saturday, Maryland drew just two penalty corners — but that didn’t matter.
In addition to Clune’s first goal of the season, the Terps ended up winning the match on a late strike by Donraadt on a miraculous offensive sequence during the final minutes. Coach Missy Meharg’s squad continued to find different ways to score without relying on penalty corner plays.
Earning these two wins against a dominant Rutgers squad has boosted Maryland’s confidence.
“Mindset can be very positive, it can be very neutral, and it can be very negative,” Meharg said. “And what we’ve loved about working with this team is it’s either been neutral or positive.”
Maryland entered the final regular season weekend with a .500 record and found itself on a three-game skid.
Now, after their two wins over the Scarlet Knights, the Terps roll into the Big Ten tournament with an 8-6 overall record. Since only the first match of every weekend series counts toward a team’s conference record, Maryland’s 5-3 conference finish earned it the No. 4 seed in the tournament. On Wednesday, it’ll face No. 5 seed Iowa on the Hawkeyes’ home pitch.
“We couldn’t be going into the tournament playing a better brand of hockey,” Meharg said.
It took more than finding new ways to score for the Terps to earn two wins against Rutgers — they had to control a Scarlet Knights attack that has found the back of the cage 25 times this season.
And goalkeeper Noelle Frost continued showing her brilliance in the net. During the latter half of the fourth quarter, Rutgers scored off the first penalty stroke against Maryland all season. They didn’t let up on Frost and the Terps’ defense, but Frost stayed cool under pressure.
The Scarlet Knights drew three consecutive penalty corners. They took three shots, and Frost put every one of them away, eventually allowing Maryland to drive down the pitch before Donraadt would knock in the match-winning goal.
“I can’t applaud Noelle Frost enough,” Meharg said. “The way these guys rebound, our corner defensive unit was unbelievable.”