No. 5 Maryland field hockey set to face No. 9 Liberty in its awaited return to the Final Four

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 5 Maryland field hockey (15-6) rolls into the Final Four and will face No. 9 Liberty (19-2) in a classic battle between a perennial powerhouse and a promising underdog. 

On November 19, Maryland will return to the Final Four for the 20th time in program history and first time since 2018, with designs to win its first National Championship in ten years.

To reach the Final, the Terps will need to beat a squad that currently holds the longest winning streak in the country at 16 games.

Maryland opened the tournament winning both its games, 2-1, against Virginia and Syracuse. The Terps are the only regional host remaining after the top four seeds were eliminated. 

“Maryland just needs to really stay focused on doing what we do very well and that is playing the ball on a transfer and then attack, attack, attack,” head coach Missy Meharg said. 

The Terps played in Ann Arbor earlier this season and upset No. 2 Michigan. Their win marked a turning point for their 2021 campaign. 

Back in Michigan on Wednesday, the Terps are basking in their accomplishments, as they look to capture the same magic they had when they last visited Ann Arbor. 

 “[Thursday] was our first full day here,” midfielder Bibi Donraadt said. “Actually being on [the University of Michigan’s] campus makes it feel real now that you are actually at the Final Four.”

Liberty has not lost since September 12 and has experienced a dream season, winning their first Big East tournament title after shutting out UConn, 1-0, in the final.

The team earned their first Elite Eight berth after silencing Saint Joseph’s 2-0 and then took down No. 1 Rutgers with a dramatic shootout victory. 

Jill Bolton and Daniella Rhodes have scored the bulk of Liberty’s goals scoring 18 and 16, respectively. Bolton sent the team’s Elite Eight matchup into overtime, scoring off a penalty corner with four minutes left in regulation to tie the game at 2-2 and she scored in the shootout. 

This is only the second ever meeting between the two teams. Their first meeting came in 2017 which Maryland won 4-1. 

“Always fun to play a new team,” defender Riley Donnelly said. 

The winner will play for a National Championship on Sunday against the winner of No. 12 Harvard vs. No. 7 Northwestern. Both Final Four games can be streamed on ESPN+.