Maryland field hockey readied to stop its third straight penalty corner. Virginia fired at goalie Alyssa Klebasko, who stepped up to save the shot.
But the free rebound landed at the stick of Virginia midfielder Dani Mendez-Trendler, who scooped the ball and fired it for a goal under ten minutes into the match.
The Cavaliers’ early score set the tone for a 4-0 victory, one that eliminated the Terps in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinal. This is Maryland’s first year not advancing to the Final Four since 2020.
“Obviously super disappointed in the outcome. I applaud Virginia, they had a real beat to their pace,” Missy Mehard said. “… We knew their penalty corners were dangerous and they were.”
In Maryland’s tournament opener, it scored two out of its three goals on penalty corners. They worked to do the same Sunday, earning three such chances just under two minutes into the match. But all three shots didn’t get to the net and were recovered by the Cavalier’s defense.
The Cavaliers earned the same trilogy of corners late in the opening frame. Their first two shots were knocked away by the Terps backline but the third, Mendez-Trendler’s, found its way through.
Virginia erupted in the second quarter with four shots compared to Maryland’s none and scored its second goal off another penalty corner.
The insert came to the top of the circle where Virginia faked a shot on goal. The Cavaliers passed left to midfielder Madison Orsi, who moved the ball across the cage and into the bottom left corner to put the Cavaliers up by two heading into halftime.
The Cavalier’s defense played with low sticks and blocked many of Maryland’s offensive advances. The Terps often failed to win their one-on-one encounters or connect their passes up the pitch. They scuffled offensively, with just six shots in the game.
Even when Josie Hollamon got a shot off during a penalty, a Cavalier midfielder jumped in front of the shot with her stick down to make a defensive save.
“I think one of the things that we saw with Virginia is they get a ton of numbers around the ball very, very quickly,” said Missy Meharg. “They’re very athletic, so they play a very good combination of man-to-man and zone. They’re very quick to run, put pressure on the play.”
Virginia continued to spend the majority of its time in Maryland’s offensive half and often fired shots at Klebasko. The Cavaliers repeatedly pressured up the right side of the field and tried to penetrate the circle, efforts that proved successful once again in the third quarter.
Minnie Pollock saw an opening in Klebasko’s net and aimed a shot for the bottom left corner of the cage that put Virginia up by a trio of tallies. The Terps’ backline continued to break down — the Cavaliers finished with 16 shots — and Adele Iacobucci’s score in the middle of the final frame put them up by four.
“You make a commitment and the commitment is us, it’s one heartbeat. Everything we do is us,” said Meharg. “… We’ve had some magnificent results and this one hurts.”