The No. 3 Maryland Terrapins continued their early-season hot streak by defeating the visiting No.12 Delaware Blue Hens 5-3 to begin the Maryland Invitational tournament.
With Nike Lorenz out due to personal reasons, the Terps needed to find a new source of offense Friday afternoon. Kelee Lepage, Linnea Gonzales, Bibi Donraadt, Bodil Keus and Sabrina Rhodes took part in a balanced scoring effort during Lorenz’s absence. Head coach Missy Meharg was proud of the way that her team handled the unexpected circumstances.
“I thought Maryland was super mature,” Meharg said. “[This team] is event-driven. They just have that energy and that buzz to want to unsettle you mentally.”
Maryland took advantage of possession early in the game, scoring a goal just under four minutes into the first half. Junior defender Kelee Lepage tallied her first goal of the season off a well-worked penalty corner. Maryland continues to be a dangerous team when it comes to penalty corners, with all their players more than capable of scoring on the set piece.
Freshman forward Bibi Donraadt continued her early emergence for Maryland as she added the team’s second goal of the game. Meharg likes the way Donraadt has played coming off the bench, providing a spark for the rest of the team.
“Bibi’s coming into her own,” Meharg said. “This does typically happen when you’ve got young players that come in, particularly from Western Europe because they are just not used to the weather.”
Lepage was also involved in the scoring of the second goal, providing the assist on what was Donraadt’s third goal of the season. The junior was very active in the team’s early offensive spurt.
“I think we had a good week of practice,” Lepage said. “Connecting as a team and communication was one of our biggest things that we talked about this week. I think we were really goal-focused and made it work.”
The tremendous first half for the Terps continued as captain Linnea Gonzales scored her fifth goal of the season to expand their lead to three. Maryland’s energy and rhythm were awarded with the early scoring success.
Delaware was able to respond just before the half ended as Lotte de Koning scored to trim the three-goal Maryland lead.
Entering the second half, the Terps were completely in control of the game and looking to extend their lead. Sabrina Rhodes did just that as she scored her second goal of the season.
Maryland was looking to put the finishing touches on the Blue Hens, but Delaware dug deep and clawed their way back into the game. Femke Strien scored just under 14 minutes into the second half proving must-needed energy for the Blue Hens.
With the Terps now on their heels, a Lotte de Koning penalty stroke goal changed the entire dynamic of the game, putting pressure on the Terps to defend their one-goal lead.
Sophomore defender Bodil Keus lifted the pressure off Maryland’s shoulders with her third goal of the season during a penalty corner with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
“We prepared so much for this game against Delaware just because it is such a high opponent,” Keus said. “We were so ready for this game, you could see it when we were warming up. That helped a lot.”
The goal by Keus would be the last score of the game as Maryland would hang on to win the game after stopping multiple scoring chances by Delaware late in the contest. The Terps then turned their attention to the second game of the two-day slate against the No. 17 Harvard.
The following day, the No. 3 Terrapins came away from the Maryland Invitational tournament still undefeated after their 3-1 win against the visiting Harvard Crimson.
Maryland struggled once again to get started, but they came together in the end, providing just enough energy to defeat the Crimson. The Terps stay undefeated and will now begin to play Big Ten conference opponents.
“I am just so impressed with the players,” Meharg said. “The weather was challenging, and Harvard is a really good team, there was a lot of energy out there. I am just super impressed with the amount of pressure that we had.”
Harvard came out with an energy the Terps have not seen since their game against Duke. The Crimson opened the scoring off a penalty corner 17:47 into the first half, marking the first time that Maryland had trailed during the two-game tournament.
Maryland became frustrated with their offense, unable to solve Harvard’s goalkeeper Ellie Shahbo. Shahbo made eight saves in the first half, stopping five penalty corners and a penalty stroke from Bodil Keus.
Shahbo, however, could not keep a clean sheet through the first half as the Terps finally put a tally on the scoreboard as Gonzales scored her sixth goal of the season. The Terps had previously went to Keus on a majority of the corners, but a change in the game plan gave Gonzales the opportunity to tie the game.
The rest of the first half was pretty chippy as both teams were awarded green cards when the competitive play picked up. The Terps adjusted to the style of play, staying focused and wanting to take the lead.
With the rain starting to pick up in the second half, both teams would have to adjust to the conditions as well. Sabrina Rhodes has come up big for the Terps, and she did so once again on Sunday afternoon.
Just seven minutes into the second half, Rhodes took a penalty stroke for the team, scoring her third goal of the season and provided the go-ahead goal for Maryland.
“[Rhodes] is great,” Meharg said. “She grew so much in the past year. I am so impressed with her variety of skills. She is a great defender, she can eliminate. She’s a go-to when it comes to penalty strokes.”
The goal by the junior forward was the eventual winning goal, but it was not the last for the Terps.
Madison Maguire added her third goal of the year with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. The goal gave the Terps some breathing room, and ended up being enough for the team’s seventh victory.
“I think going into this weekend, from yesterday we just had great energy,” said Maguire. “I know it was not the greatest weather, but I think we just pushed past it.”
The Terps will be seen in action again next Saturday as they take on in-conference foe Michigan State in East Lansing, MI.
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