With a lopsided win in the Quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference Championship against Michigan State, the Terps head to Evanston, Illinois, looking to bring back the postseason crown to College Park.
Standing in the Terps’ way is the No. 19 Ohio State Buckeyes who come into the game as the fourth ranked team in the bracket. Maryland’s late struggles towards the end of the year were swept under the rug with their win last week, but the team will look forward in trying to continue their postseason journey.
Returning to the team in their first postseason contest against Michigan State was junior Nike Lorenz who missed several games with a nagging lower-body injury. Meharg was excited to see the veteran playmaker back in the lineup for Maryland moving forward.
“She’s a great player,” Meharg said. “She loves the game. It’s obvious we can play with or without her. I am proud of our medical team here to be able to put her and for the sake of this team in position. We are just a better team, a more experienced team with her.”
“Obviously, [I am] super happy,” Lorenz said. “The timing is really, really good too. We are really lucky. You always want to play, but I think my injury could have been worse, so I was still kind of lucky. That’s just how sports are.”
In the Terps’ first meeting with Ohio State during the regular season, Maryland finished with 21 shots while on their way to a 1-0 win at home. Buckeyes’ goalkeeper Aaliyah Hernandez stopped nine shots on goal to keep her team in the game, but it was not enough to stop the powerful Maryland offense.
In the later stages of Maryland’s win against Michigan State, head coach Missy Meharg rewarded some of the bench players on the Terps’ roster with playing time that could be beneficial for the rest of postseason play. This was extremely helpful for senior captain Linnea Gonzales in getting more reps with the younger players.
“It’s very exciting to have that new energy come in off the sideline,” Gonzales said. “That’s something we talked about this week, just having that energy and impacting each other with that positive vibe.”
Gonzalez and Lorenz are two of the team’s biggest goal-scorers heading into the next round of the tournament
“So excited to keep going forward and keep growing, keep the energy up,” Gonzales said.
Lorenz will be competing in her first Big Ten Tournament with the Maryland team that has had prior success in the postseason tournament.
“The big games are coming up, so the energy is going up a little bit and everybody is a little bit more on fire,” Lorenz said. “I think it’s a great part of the season and I am excited to join.”
Maryland will begin their next step to the Big Ten Conference Championship on Friday at 1 p.m.