Photo courtesy of Maryland athletics
The No. 1 Maryland Terrapins start their NCAA Tournament run this Sunday at noon as they host High Point, who defeated Towson 21-15 to advance into the second round.
The Terps are looking to win their third national title in the past four seasons while quieting the demons from last year when they were defeated by North Carolina in the championship game.
“That was tough. It definitely makes you not want to feel that feeling again,” senior Caroline Wannen said referring to last year’s loss to the Tar Heels. “But we can’t look ahead to that weekend yet. We still have a lot business to take care of.”
Maryland comes into this tournament as the No. 1 overall seed in the field of 26 that was announced last Sunday night and finished the regular season undefeated for the third year in a row.
The Terps don’t only come into the tournament with a ton of team success, but a lot of individual success as well.
They almost swept the Big Ten Honors as they won everything but Attacker of the Year, which went to Penn State’s Steph Lazo.
Maryland also has two of the final five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award as seniors Zoe Stukenberg and Nadine Hadnagy earned nominations for their impressive seasons.
All this talent has come together for this Terps team, who is on a dominant 19-0 run.
“Our team chemistry in general is something I’m really proud of how far we’ve come,” junior Megan Whittle said. “The team in my three years that I think we’ve had the best team chemistry.”
Maryland will take the No. 2 offense in the nation into Sunday’s game, the side of the ball that has remained a constant for this year’s team. Their defense, which did not come out sharp against Johns Hopkins last Friday after having a week off, will need to be stout against a High Point team that employs the third best offense in the nation.
“That’s I think the first piece is for us as coaches just making sure that we’re prepared as far as the game plan goes coming in, making sure our girls are prepared as far as the rest and recovery that they need,” head coach Cathy Reese said about how the Terps were approaching the week off.
The Panther’s offense is lead by senior attacker Samantha Brown, who leads High Point with 61 goals and 86 points.
Megan Taylor, who struggled against the Blue Jays, played extremely well against Northwestern last Sunday and looks to carry her momentum into Sunday to slow a High Point team that just scored 21 goals against Towson.
The winner of this game will move on to the third round of the NCAA Tournament next weekend and face the winner of Stony Brook and Northwestern.
If Maryland wins, they will get to host another tournament game in College Park.