The field hockey team traveled to College Park, Md., Sunday to take on the Terrapins, and though they didn’t leave with a victory, they came away with valuable experience.
The No. 18 Owls (9-4) didn’t have many regrets after a hard-fought 3-1 loss to the second-ranked Terrapins (12-0).
“The girls played very hard today, but we just gave up a lot of fouls and made a few mistakes to give too many corners,” coach Amanda Janney said. “We focused a little bit more on our press. We really thought if we put a little bit more pressure on Maryland’s backfield that we could be able to make them make mistakes and it actually worked very well for us today.”
The Terrapins came out swinging with six corners in the first five minutes, forcing the Owls to regroup. The pressure handcuffed the Owls as Maryland’s Alexis Pappas netted the first goal in the 21st minute. Just eight minutes later, the Terrapins’ Susie Rowe made it a 2-0 deficit.
Late in the first half, the Owls found the offensive touch that had allowed them to win their previous five games. Senior Alli Lokey found a charging Kasey Ruth, who knocked in her second goal of the year.
“We were really doing well when our passing game was on,” Ruth said. “When we were passing we were really communicating. We were able to pass around [Maryland] and we were able to get into our offensive circle.”
The second half would have kept the Owls in contention until the final five minutes when Maryland’s Nicole Muracco added the defining insurance goal.
The storyline would ultimately be the Terrapins 17-4 corner and 39-9 shot margin advantage.
“It wasn’t so much that we gave them great opportunities; we set them up to take shots that weren’t the best shots in the world,” junior goalie Erin Hanshue said.
Hanshue had her hands full, but managed to make 18 saves and keep the Owls in the game until late.
The Owls were reminiscent of last year’s trip to Maryland as they dropped the early season game in honorable fashion, 2-1. Maryland has now won 12 straight and continues to influence its powerhouse status over opponents.
The Owls remain idle until Friday, when they play against rival Richmond. It’s a game that not only marks the beginning of Atlantic Ten Conference play, but one that the Owls look to for redemption. The Spiders have eliminated the Owls from the A-10 championships two of the last three years, including a heart-wrenching overtime defeat of a year ago.
The team knows what it is capable of accomplishing, and after Sunday’s outing, the Owls aren’t far off.
“We were really playing our game and we were just playing overall very well,” Ruth said. “And that’s something were going to be proud of and take into our A-10 play.”
The Owls have all the components to take firm control over the rest of the A-10, and most importantly, they are completely focused on the task at hand.
“It is A-10’s coming up,” Hanshue said. “That’s never hard to get pumped for. Basically our record doesn’t matter as of Friday-even as of today. Nothing we’ve done so far really matters and we have to start from 0-0.”
Anthony Stipa can be reached at email@example.com.