Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 1 seed Maryland hosts Denver looking to clinch 11th consecutive final four appearance

After a slow start against No. 16 seed Stony Brook on Sunday trailing 4-0, the Terps roared back in the later stages of the first half en route to a dominant 17-8 victory. Despite the early deficit, Maryland once again showed their resiliency and veteran leadership, not panicking and maintaining composure.

“Look at this group, led by our senior class,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “Their leadership ability, their emotion, their passion, how much they care is something I’m so proud of.”

Now the Terps will take on the Pioneers, who defeated USC 11-10 in overtime in the first round and No. 8 seed Michigan 9-5 in the quarterfinals. Denver enters the matchup with the top scoring defense in the country, giving up an average of 6.79 goals per game. Similar to Stony Brook, Denver employs a zone defense, which Maryland is now very familiar with. Against the Seawolves zone, the Terps attackers and midfielders had great success finding open cutters and making sure not to clog the cutting lanes.

“I think [Denver] throws out a really interesting zone,”sophomore midfielder Grace Griffin said. “We’re focusing on moving as a unit offensively and making sure that we’re looking for the right feed, the right look.”

In their previous matchup against Stony Brook, the Terps went on an 8-0 run the final 18 minutes of the first half consistently finding cutters and open lanes. Up until that point in the game, the Seawolves defense did a good job of closing off lanes for cutters and not allowing the Maryland attackers open looks. However, as time passed, the Terps offense seemed to be more comfortable navigating the zone.

Facing off against another tough zone defense prior to this matchup gives Maryland an advantage in preparation for the talented Pioneer defense. The goal of a zone defense is to force multiple cutters into the same area, clogging up the middle making it difficult for the offense to find open space.

“Coming off of the win against [Stony Brook] and heading into Denver, Denver is very good at what they do,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “Denver’s zone is different than Stony Brook, but they do it well.”

While the Terps attackers did a great job of off-ball movement against the Seawolves, they also had excellent shot placement and did a good job varying their shot angles. Some shots were low to high, others were high to low and others were sidearm. Playing against the top scoring defense in the country, Maryland will need to continue that trend against the Pioneers.

“Denver’s goalie is great, so I think that’s something we’re going to need to do,” junior attacker Brindi Griffin said.

While Maryland’s offense was outstanding during that run, so was the defense shutting out the Seawolves offense leaving their attackers minimal space. When senior goalie Megan Taylor was tested, she was up to the task.

“It starts from our defense, during that eight goal run Meggy T was coming up with some huge saves,” Brindi Griffin said. “When we see the defense come up with some huge stops, it gets us all excited and we want to do well.”

With first draw scheduled for 7 p.m, the Terps will look to clinch a trip back to Homewood Field in Baltimore in their final game at Maryland Stadium.