After dominating from start to finish against Rutgers on Sunday, No. 2 Maryland (12-0, 3-0 B1G) will travel to Charlottesville to take on the No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers (9-4, 1-4 ACC).
Virginia will be the eighth ranked opponent of the season for Maryland, in a loaded schedule for Cathy Reese’s squad. With a win Wednesday, Reese will become the winningest head coach in program history with 261 wins, passing her predecessor Cindy Timchal.
Sunday’s victory was another display of the selflessness and offensive balance of the Terps, with 13 different goal scorers in the 20-goal effort. Junior attacker Brindi Griffin led the way with four goals, a career-high. Griffin has scored 21 goals this season, already surpassing her total of 17 from last year. Griffin has been hitting her stride as of late, with a combined 16 points in the last four games. Each of the past two games, Griffin has had highlight reel goals showcasing her combination of speed and finesse behind the cage while causing nightmares for opposing defenders.
“Defensively you don’t want to be on [Brindi] behind the cage, I can tell you that,” junior defender Lizzie Colson said after the win against Princeton. “She’s really good behind the cage, she’s super shifty.”
In addition to Griffin, five other Terps have scored at least 20 goals so far this season including senior Jen Giles and junior Kali Hartshorn who have each scored more than 30. Erica Evans and sophomore Grace Griffin have also stepped into larger roles with the absence of Caroline Steele who missed two games earlier on with an injury. Steele scored a goal against Rutgers before Reese subbed her out, allowing some of the younger players to get some more playing time.
While the Terps offense has been firing on all cylinders recently, so has the defense with improving communication. Communicating on when to slide and communicating off-ball cutters has given opposing offenses fits recently. Similar to the offense, the defense is a veteran-filled group who have played alongside each other for several seasons. In addition to outstanding communication, all of the Terps defenders are winning their individual battles making it very difficult for opposing offenses to find space.
The Terps field the third best scoring defense in the country giving up an average of 6.75 goals per game, including holding four consecutive opponents to seven goals or less. Senior goalie Megan Taylor has been outstanding all season long, nominated as Big Ten Defender of the Week for the fifth consecutive week. Taylor leads the country with a .604 save percentage and is also top 15 in total saves.
Taylor and the Terps defense will be tested against the talented Cavaliers offense led by the duo of junior midfielder Sammy Pueller and senior attacker Avery Shoemaker. Both Pueller and Shoemaker have scored over 30 goals this season and are often the recipients of passes from senior midfielder Maggie Jackson. Maryland will need to continue winning its individual matchups not allowing the high-octane Cavalier offense to get going.
Wednesday will be another tough test for Reese and the Terps, who so far have not been daunted by top ten competition. First draw is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville.
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