Belle Bressler embraces her teammates (via Zach Bland/Maryland Athletics)

No. 8 Maryland field hockey looks to put back-to-back losses to bed against No. 12 Virginia

By Brandon Schwartzberg

No. 8 Maryland field hockey (7-4) will look to get back into the win column after back-to-back conference losses against top five teams, as they take on No. 12 Virginia (7-3) in Charlottesville on Thursday.

In their most recent showdown against No. 1 Iowa, the Terps suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss after a late goal lifted the Hawkeyes past the Terps.

The game started out slow, as neither team managed to score a goal in the first half due to strong defensive play from both sides. Both teams were locked in defensively all game, and it seemed early on that only one goal would be needed to win.

After just over 40 minutes of game time had been taken off the clock, the game remained scoreless. However, in just a three minute span, both teams put a goal on the board, and just two minutes after that, Iowa scored again in what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

With time in the third quarter dwindling down, Iowa had possession and decided to put up a shot, knowing that it couldn’t hurt them. Midfielder Leah Zellner scored the goal following a tip from the left side for the Hawkeyes, to put them up 1-0 entering the fourth quarter.

Early on in the fourth, Maryland took advantage of a penalty corner opportunity. The corner was sent in to defender Riley Donnelly, and her shot was flung directly into the back of the cage, tying the game and bringing Maryland back into the game. 

“The moment is definitely so exciting, but then after that you take about 15 seconds and it’s back into the game plan,” Donnelly said of her goal.

Just after that, Iowa regained the lead. The Hawkeyes had the number advantage out in the open, and they took advantage, as midfielder Maddy Murphy shot a deflection from outside the circle straight back into the cage to put Iowa up 2-1, in what ended up being the deciding goal.

Maryland head coach Missy Meharg always talks to her team following games, but after the tough loss, Meharg spent some extra time in her team’s postgame discussion. 

“There’s a lot of things that happen as student athletes, as teams, off the field that find their funky way onto the field and I think you always have to remember that we need to stay as positive as possible,” Meharg said of her postgame conversation with the team.

Virginia comes into the game against Maryland following a double overtime thriller win against No. 20 Duke.

The Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead following the goal from backer Amber Ezechiels on her team’s first penalty corner. Duke tied it up shortly into the second half, after the Blue Devils’ Leah Crouse scored off a rebound. Each team picked up another goal in the fourth quarter, ending regulation in a 2-2 tie.

Late in the first overtime, Virginia’s Rachel Robinson was issued a green card, forcing the Cavaliers to play one person down. With 15 seconds left in the first overtime, Amber Ezechiels was also given a green card, forcing her team to play two women down. However, Virginia survived the green card periods, and got both players later on in the second overtime.

With time running down in the second overtime, the Cavaliers had a two-on-one advantage following a Duke turnover. Annie McDonough raced past the empty midfield, passed it off to Amber Ezechiels, and her move on the Duke goalie created an open line to the goal. Ezechiels fired off a shot right into the cage and won the game for Virginia.

Ezechiels leads her team in goals and points, with 5 and 13 respectively. Six other Cavaliers have scored multiple goals this season.

In the all-time matchup against Virginia, Maryland has gotten the better of the Cavaliers, leading the series 42-22-2. Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, the series has been more competitive, as Maryland is only 3-2 in five matchups since 2014.

The game on Thursday will start at 4 p.m. and will take place on the road in Charlottesville.

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