Head coach Cathy Reese screamed from the Maryland bench, her voice struggling to carry through the howling wind. The target of her clamor, attacker Brindi Griffin, was still celebrating. Her fellow teammates diverted her attention, and Griffin turned over towards her coach.
“Good job!” Reese yelled.
And with good reason. The senior had just dodged two Hofstra defenders before bouncing the ball into the cage — the third of her five goals on the day. Her strike was a crucial part of a 7-0 Maryland first half run that proved to be insurmountable, as the Terps deposited the Pride, 16-11.
“We had a great win,” Reese said. “But [Hofstra] is fast, they’re aggressive, they’re athletic. They pushed us today.”
Griffin’s five goals were crucial in an otherwise lethargic 60 minutes. The teams combined for 83 shots on the day, of which only 27 found the net. The high volume, low-efficiency offensive effort bled into other facets of the game — with lots of vibrant moments but little fluidity. And although Maryland never seized total control, its early success was enough for a second consecutive win.
With the national leaders in draw controls visiting, supremacy at the circle was more important than usual for the Terps. Although attacker Kali Hartshorn snagged the first of the day, Hofstra soon showed its quality. The Pride won the next four draw controls in a row, pinning Maryland back. Midfielder Alexa Mattera was the beneficiary of the visitors’ early possessions, scoring two goals in quick succession for an early lead.
“I don’t know that we ever really had an answer on the draw,” Reese said.
Hofstra didn’t hold the lead for long. After taking some ill-advised shots early, Maryland found its rhythm. Griffin scored three in a row — including two carefully-placed bounce shots — to swing the game back in Maryland’s favor. The rest of the Terps got involved soon after.
“Brindi is such a good dodger, and so hard to defend,” Reese said. “I just wanted her to take advantage of that.”
Maryland worked its way back at the draw circle, with Hartshorn snagging numerous ground balls to give the offense more opportunities. Midfielders Hannah Warther and Kate Sites found the net twice, accounting for a four goal burst in 90 seconds to augment Maryland’s lead to 9-2 with six minutes remaining in the half.
Although Hofstra kept the Terps out for the remainder of the half, it never threatened much at the other end. Goalie Maddie McSally was part of the reason. The sophomore continued her strong run of form, posting nine first half saves to keep Maryland’s lead comfortable.
“Hostra’s offense is really high powered, they generate a lot of looks,” Reese said. “McSally made a lot of great saves.”
Meanwhile, the Terps also kept midfielder Alyssa Parrella, Hofstra’s all-time leading scorer, off the board. She tallied nine first half shots, but none found the back of the net. Without her production, Hofstra shot a tepid 33%, and Maryland held a 9-3 halftime lead.
Continuing a recent theme, Maryland looked sluggish after the break. Hofstra scored after a mere 90 seconds to chip away at the lead. While the Terps responded with Griffin’s fifth of the day, the Pride were the livelier team to start the period. Taylor Mennella scored twice in quick succession, complemented by a Katie Whelan strike, to shrink the Maryland lead to a far more precarious 10-6.
“Something we need to work one is our second half,” Griffin said. “Coming out with that attacking mindset.”
Once again, though, McSally kept the lead intact. She notched numerous key saves off both free position attempts and open play, reaching a career high with 14 with 14 minutes to play. While Parrella finally found the net, McSally equalized numerous crucial shots to ensure that the prolific scorer didn’t heat up.
“They will drive really hard and they will shoot as soon as they have a free second,” McSally said. “That was new to me.”
With McSally providing at one end, the Terps did enough at the other. If the first half was all about Griffin, the second was Libby May’s. The freshman moved deftly around the 8-meter line, finding gaps in the Pride’s revamped zone defense, and finishing efficiently when given the opportunity. She scored three in two minutes, capped off by an overhand flick from close range to push Maryland’s lead to 15-8.
It would prove to be enough, as the Terps saw out the contest. While there were further shaky moments, a dominant 15 minute period of the first half was enough for the Terps’ second win in a row.
“We gotta keep working on being consistent,” Reese said. “We’ve got to play two halves.”