Ahead of the overtime period, Maryland field hockey danced to the music playing at Lakeside Field and exhibited no signs of a team that had played into extra time just two days prior.
But the upbeat vibe on the sideline belied how locked in the Terps were.
A tightly contested game against a nationally ranked opponent ended with a 2-1 win for No. 4 Maryland over Northwestern that Danielle Van Rootselaar secured with an overtime goal.
“Overtime is Terp time,” Van Rootselaar said. “Everyone’s excited to get to overtime and we know we’re gonna win … So I think that’s why it was so lighthearted and everyone was dancing and happy, because we knew we were gonna win, we knew we were better and we knew we’re gonna put the ball in the cage.”
It’s the second time in as many games Van Rootselaar has proved Maryland’s advantage over other talented squads.
As an encore to her game-winning goal on Friday against No. 3 Iowa, she blew past the Wildcats’ defense to end a three-game losing streak versus the No. 2 team in the nation. Maryland improved to 11-1 on the season and 5-0 in the Big Ten.
Van Rootselaar carried the offensive burden on a day where Maryland’s leading scorer, Hope Rose, missed a second straight game with a lower extremity injury. Rose, who leads the Terps with 27 points, is being assessed on a day-to-day basis, per a team spokesperson.
But just as they did against Iowa, the Terps used a structured defensive game plan to quiet a Northwestern offense that came into the affair having outscored its opponents 39-14 in 11 outings.
“To beat the reigning national champions, the game is absolutely in the hands of our defense,” said head coach Missy Meharg. “Our defense was a wall — [goalie] Paige [Kieft] had critical saves when needed to.”
Kieft saved four of five shots she faced, Donnelly cleared a shot off the line and defender Rayne Wright held all-American midfielder Bente Baekers to just one goal and one shot on target.
“We had a really clear plan with who Rayne was marking … and I think that was executed really well,” Van Rootselaar said. “I think everyone all over the field put the defense in a good position.”
The Terps went down early after Northwestern earned a penalty corner, setting up the Wildcats’ first quality chance on goal just under three minutes into the first quarter.
Alia Marshall delivered the opening pass, which Kayla Blas teed up for Baekers. Kieft extended her blocker glove but a deflection helped the Dutch international to her 18th goal of the season and 79th of her career. Baekers’ 1.5 goals-per-game leads the Big Ten.
About a minute later, Maryland won its own penalty corner and sent Emma Deberdine to the line. The senior midfielder fizzed a ball to the top of the shooting area, where Verleg set the ball for Van Rootselaar to slot home the game-tying tally — her third goal in two games.
Van Rootselaar, who joined Maryland as a transfer from Brown, capped off a four-goal weekend. She notched both of the team’s goals in a 2-1 extra-time win against No. 3 Iowa Friday and finished Sunday’s game with two markers and eight shots on net.
“Now she can idle for a bit, she can wait and set up her time and tactics, and I think she’s never really had the luxury of trusting a lot of people around her,” Meharg said of Van Rootselaar. “And every day in training and every game, she starts to trust and trust more, and so she can be freed up to do what it is she’s great at; she’s a one-on-one beast, so she’ll win that battle.”
The home side looked to have taken the lead late in the first quarter after Maddie Zimmer fired a shot from the right side that slipped under Kieft, but video review showed that defender Donnelly kept the ball from crossing the line.
With the Wildcats threatening before the half, Wright broke up a forward charge and separated Baekers from the ball before finding Leah Crouse on the right wing.
Crouse, a member of the national team, then danced around Ana Medina Garcia and dished a pass to Margot Lawn up top, but Northwestern goalie Annabel Skubisz shuffled across to stymie Lawn’s attempt. It was one of Skubisz’s 13 saves of the afternoon.
It was a frustrating fourth quarter for the Terps, who didn’t take advantage of a Lauren Wadas yellow card and struggled on corners.
In the final minute of the frame, Van Rootselaar had two looks on net off penalty corners but failed to convert on either. The Terps had seven corners in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get a shot past Skubisz.
Despite winning seven more corners than its opponent, Maryland went 1-11 on corners in regulation.
The Terps’ record in one-goal games improves to 5-1 and its record in overtime rises to 2-1.
They now hold a 19-11 all-time record versus Northwestern and a 6-3 series advantage in Evanston. Maryland, which capped off a fruitful weekend on the road, also takes a sizable lead in the conference standings.
A two-game slate against a pair of top-five opponents was always going to test the visitors, but for Van Rootselaar, the conference matches are just like any other game.
“In a way, it’s maybe easier for me to go into hard days like this because, [Maryland] has played Northwestern and Iowa so many times, but I don’t know what they play. I don’t know that they’re that good,” Van Rootselaar said. “So I kind of go into it more open minded, I guess, because I’m like, ‘Okay, well, it’s just another team I’ve never played,’ so I don’t really know what to expect, so I guess that’s helpful for me.”