Margot Lawn carried the ball up the left side of the pitch in the middle of the second quarter and slid a pass to Maci Bradford in the shooting circle. The freshman spun around to corral the ball and shot hard at the net.
The shot found Hope Rose, who tipped the shot between her legs with her back to the goalie for the game’s opening goal. Her thirteenth tally of the season and first since Oct. 8 was the game-winner for No. 3-seed Maryland in its 2-0 victory over No. 6-seed Iowa in Thursday’s opening round of the Big Ten tournament in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“If she’s not scoring goals, she’s causing other things but I think for her to break into getting back on the board with goals is super important,” Missy Meharg said. “She played very well.”
The Terps will face No. 2-seed Rutgers on Friday at 3:30 p.m in the tournament semifinals. They’ve been one of the conference’s final four teams in eight of their 10 years in the Big Ten.
The teams met just under two weeks ago, a 4-1 Maryland victory. The rematch started differently — the Terps scored just over a minute into the first meeting but on Thursday, the sides remained scoreless through one quarter.
Still, Maryland controlled play with three shots in the frame compared to Iowa’s one.
“This league we could get as many as six teams into the NCAA tournament and that’s very exciting for the Big Ten,” Meharg said. “So any game in the Big Ten that you come out on top in November, championship month, is just a testament to the fact that you can keep advancing and that’s our goal.”
The Hawkeyes spent little time on the attack as the Terps defense — led by Hannah Boss and Maura Verleg — worked in tandem to muffle Iowa. Rayne Wright clamped down Iowa star midfielder Dionna Van Aalsum, who led the nation with 27 goals, keeping her scoreless and with just one shot on goal — her lowest total since Oct. 6.
Van Aalsum was also held without a goal in her last game against Maryland. Her struggles mirrored the Hawkeyes’. Iowa notched just six shots, two of them on goal, well below their season average entering the day of 14.5.
Maryland had no such offensive struggles. It racked up 19 shots, five of them on goal, forcing Iowa goalie Mia Magnotta into action multiple times.
Magnotta had no answer for the Terps’ second goal. Lawn kicked it off, charging into the circle and dishing a pass out to Sammy Popper, who fired a quick shot. Her attempt bounced off the left post and slammed into the goal, doubling the Terps’ lead early in the second half.
Goalie Alyssa Klebasko was removed in the third quarter of Maryland’s last match against Northwestern after allowing four goals. Despite that, the freshman made her postseason debut for the Terps against the Hawkeyes and had a quiet two-save shutout.
Boss, who had two goals against Iowa in the team’s last matchup, was once again a crucial offensive player Thursday. She finished with a team-high six shots in just 33 minutes.
“So pleased for the team, our fortitude, our courage … we put the pedal down from the very start of the game,” Meharg said. “… Super happy to advance. The team played with a lot of courage and tenacity in the final ten minutes.”