By Alex Rychwalski
The No. 9 Maryland Terrapins came into the NCAA championship game against the undefeated No. 1 UConn Huskies riding a wave of confidence and momentum, but the talent of the Huskies proved to be too much in the battle in Louisville. The Terps came up just short, losing 2-1.
The Huskies came in sporting a spotless 22-0 record, so they were the clear favorites, but the Terps had a bit of history on their side. Maryland, coming off a 5-1 semifinal victory over conference foe Michigan, had won three of its eight national championships at Louisville’s Trager Stadium.
After about 15 tightly contested minutes in which neither team was able to muster a shot, the Huskies fed a beautiful ball to the nation’s goal leader and two-time All-American Charlotte Veitner.
Veitner beat the Terps’ All-Big Ten Second Team defender Carrie Hanks one on one, and ripped a reverse chip past Sarah Holliday to score the first goal of the game.
Conversely, the Terps didn’t earn their first scoring opportunity until 24:08 in the game when the they got their first penalty corner. Bodil Keus took on a shot at the top of the circle, but the shot was saved with little resistance.
Both teams were evenly matched for much of the early stages, but Uconn’s chances on goal were much more quality than those of the Terps.
Just when it looked like a 1-0 Huskies’ halftime advantage was a foregone conclusion, Lein Holsboer had a one on one opportunity with the Huskies’ goalie to even the score. She got the chance with just a few ticks left on the clock but was denied.
Both teams entered halftime with three shots and two on goal.
Despite the lack of openings against the Huskies powerful defense, Maryland came out of the half aggressively. They earned a penalty corner 6:30 after intermission and they made the most of it.
The set play was to give it to Bodil Keus at the top of the key, but she lost it when she tried to elude a defender with a spin move. The broken corner ended up on the stick of Maryland freshman Kyler Greenwalt, who buried her seventh goal of the season and knotted the score at one.
It started to feel like the Terrapins were taking control of the game, but that momentum was short lived.
The nation’s leader in goals began the day with a goal, and she put a stamp on the Huskies’ season and her career as a senior at Uconn with a game winning goal in the title game.
Uconn stole the ball in Maryland’s defensive end, and the Huskies found Veitner in front of goal. The goal scoring wizard put away the opportunity with a reverse chip for her 34th goal of the season.
The goal, scored with about six minutes left to go, put the huskies in front, and the emotional letdown of the goal proved to be too much for the Terps to overcome.
Desperate to score an equalizer, the Terps pulled their goalie with just over three minutes left, but it proved to be too little too late.
With the loss, the Terps fall to 16-7 on the season, and come up short of their first national championship since 2011. They started an uncharacteristically slow 6-5, but were able to defeat their demons one by one. They bested Duke and Michigan in back to back tournament games after losing to them during the regular season, but they couldn’t win the last one.
The season is over for the Terps, but the future for the young team is as bright as ever.