No. 3 seed Northwestern (17-3) dominated No. 2 seed Maryland field hockey (17-3) in the first half, earning their seventh straight win.
The Wildcats jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first 25 minutes, and the Terps could not complete the comeback falling to Northwestern, 2-1, in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals.
The Wildcats struck first, scoring just four minutes into the game. Wildcats midfielder Alia Marshall deflected midfielder Maddie Zimmer’s shot in off a Northwestern penalty corner giving the Wildcats the lead.
The Terps did not fire their first shot of the game until two minutes left in the first quarter.
“When you play hockey, and you play with rhythm, and you connect in the way that we can do, then you’re going to be able to jump on them early, and we just didn’t do it in the first two quarters,” head coach Missy Meharg said.
The Wildcats peppered Maryland’s defense and goalie Christina Calandra all game, firing a total of 21 shots.
The Wildcats extended their lead on a penalty stroke midway through the second quarter. After the officials upheld the call upon review, sophomore goalie Paige Kieft came in to defend the stroke.
Wildcats midfielder Peyton Halsey buried her second stroke in just as many games. Halsey sent the stroke to the left of a diving Kieft, putting Maryland in a 2-0 hole.
The Terps entered halftime trailing 2-0 while being outshot 12-4 while allowing seven penalty corners.
Maryland found some offensive momentum in the third quarter firing seven shots.
Maryland had a good chance early in the third quarter. Midfielder Leah Crouse weaved through some traffic and fired a shot that Wildcats goalie Annabel Subisz saved a few feet in front of the goal. The rebound found forward Hope Rose, and Rose fired a shot that Marshall was there to deflect away, recording the defensive save.
Late in the third quarter, Maryland just subbed off midfielders Emma DeBerdine and Bibi Donraadt. Seconds later, Maryland earned a penalty corner.
Since their top two inserters were on the bench, the team called on junior defender Rayne Wright to insert the ball. On the second penalty corner, Wright recorded her first career point, an assist to Rose, who buried the goal off Wright’s insert.
Rose’s 14th goal cut the Terps’ deficit to one, providing a spark as the team entered the fourth quarter.
Northwestern halted Maryland’s offensive momentum in the fourth quarter, controlling the ball for the early parts. Calandra made a big kick save midway through the fourth quarter to preserve the one-goal deficit. Calandra finished the game with six saves, a new career high.
Maryland’s first shot of the fourth quarter came with five minutes left in the game. Maryland pulled Calandra with 2:49 left in the game, hoping for an equalizer, but only mustered one more shot.
“I think we had three very good open runs from like 70 yards, 60 yards, 30 yards; we entered the circle four times,” Meharg said. “I think we could have tied that game up, or at least put shots on goal. I think we were a little hesitant to pass the ball in the midfield, which hurt us.”
The loss ended the Terps’ bid for their first conference tournament title since 2018.
Northwestern will play for the Big Ten Tournament title on Sunday against No. 4 seed Michigan and the Big Ten’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Field Hockey NCAA Selection Sunday show streams at 10 p.m. on the NCAA website.