The No. 7 Maryland field hockey team gathered in a stretching circle after Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to No. 8 Penn State.
The Terps had just finished a 63-minute battle on a sweltering afternoon in College Park. As the 626-person crowd vacated the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, the players stretched and talked.
“This game, it’s disappointing, and we’re not too thrilled about the outcome,” midfielder Julianna Tornetta said. “But it’s over, it’s behind us and now it’s time to move forward onto Tuesday.”
Maryland dropped to 4-2 with the loss in its first conference affair. Both its losses have come at the hands of fellow top-10 opponents, with the former to then-No. 7 Boston College.
And it doesn’t get much easier for the Terps. No. 18 Princeton will be in town for a date on Tuesday.
This game means a bit more to Tornetta. The graduate student transferred to Maryland this year after spending her first three seasons in Princeton.
“I definitely have a little emotional connection to the team,” Tornetta said. “Seeing the girls again is gonna be great.”
Tornetta earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton in 2021. As the Ivy League canceled its 2020-21 sports seasons, Tornetta knew she wanted to play one more year of collegiate field hockey. And coach Missy Meharg recruited her to College Park.
“It was a great fit,” Meharg said. “And I recruited lights out — definitely the closer.”
Tornetta got to know Princeton very well over the years, as her sister played field hockey there as well. But on Tuesday, Tornetta won’t be thinking about any of those relationships during the match.
“This is my team now,” Tornetta said. “I’m more than happy and excited to get a ‘W’ with them.”
Maryland and Princeton have developed a rivalry over the years, with both teams usually among the best in the nation. A recent highlight came back in 2018, when they faced off in the NCAA Final Four.
The Terps and Tigers were locked in a scoreless stalemate in Louisville, Kentucky, until then-freshman Bibi Donraadt rifled in the game-winning goal in the 77th minute that sent Maryland to the national championship. Tornetta was on the other side — and took Princeton’s only shot on goal.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the Terps’ nonconference schedule and wiping out the Ivy League’s seasons, Tuesday’s meeting will be their first since 2019. And that was another thriller.
Maryland twice trailed the Tigers, but came back both times to force overtime tied at three. And as time expired in the first overtime period, junior Hannah Bond tipped in the game-winner in College Park.
Tornetta won’t be the only player to see familiar faces on the opponent’s sideline. Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente and assistant Dina Rizzo both played for Meharg at Maryland, and Rizzo also served as an assistant with the Terps.
Despite the disappointing loss for Maryland on Saturday, it knows it has to continue to stay present and bring its A-game for this showdown on Tuesday.
“These games are decided by details,” midfielder Nathalie Fiechter said. “Little details we have to change and figure that out.”