Margot Lawn set up for a penalty corner just over a minute into the match. She aimed her pass for Josie Hollamon, whose stick stopped the ball. That set up Sammy Popper to slide in and slam the ball into the back of the Iowa net.
That set the tone for a 4-1 win for No. 9 Maryland field hockey at home against Iowa on Friday for its sixth straight victory. The No. 5 Hawkeyes are the highest-ranked team the Terps have beaten this year.
A win for Iowa would have put them above Maryland in the Big Ten standings, making the victory a decisive one for a Terps team that will play just two more games — including the regular season finale against No. 1 Northwestern — before the conference tournament.
Maryland (13-3, 5-1) would double its lead soon after to hold the multi-goal advantage it maintained throughout.
Intense pressure from the Maryland offense forced an Iowa (12-3, 3-3) turnover. Hannah Boss slid in to snag the loose ball and carried it to the outside left of Iowa’s shooting circle. The Terps midfielder dodged a defender, creating enough for herself to stop and shoot past Hawkeyes’ goaltender Mia Magnotta for her third goal of the season.
“Something we’ve been really focusing on is taking quick restarts,” Boss said. “… I think our turnovers come a lot from receiving the ball or taking the ball off Iowa today and passing it forward to another teammate.”
Even when Maryland committed turnovers, its defensive line clamped down to keep them from turning to goals. Co-captains Maura Verleg and Rayne Wright held down the center backline with long passes to the wings to keep possession. The Terps’ defense timed their passes perfectly to split the Iowa midfielders and advance the ball.
Wright focused her defensive acumen on Iowa’s Dionne van Aalsum. The midfielder entered the game leading the nation in goals and points. But Wright, who played 58 minutes, shut down the Hawkeyes star and limited her to just five shots and no scores.
“We’re really confident when we do meet up with top strikers that when Rayne gets that assignment that she’s going to do really well,” associate coach Scott Tupper said.
Alyssa Klebasko continued to solidify herself as Maryland’s starting goaltender over Paige Kieft. The freshman made her seventh straight. She saved four of the five shots that came her way.
Nathalie Fiechter found her way through Iowa’s defense to the left side of the shooting circle midway through the third quarter. Her low, hard shot slipped right past Magnotta’s right foot for her first goal of the season.
An Iowa penalty corner put the visitors on the board shortly after. A shot by Annika Herbine finally broke through Klebasko but any excitement along the Hawkeyes’ bench was quickly silenced by Boss’ immediate response.
Boss recovered a loose ball in the Hawkeye’s shooting circle, spun around two defenders and pulled the ball back to launch a backhanded shot that hit the lower right corner of Iowa’s cage and sealed an important win.
“As long as we dont get satisfied with ourselves and we continue to look at the things we can improve on and the things that we do really well and emphasize those we’ll be in a really good spot,” Scott Tupper said. “… If we can stay focused … we’ll put ourselves in a really good position to have some fun come November.”