The Terps (3-1 B1G) will host last place Ohio State (1-5 B1G) on Thursday and Saturday.
Maryland is coming off of three straight wins, most recently an overtime victory at Johns Hopkins while Ohio State has dropped its past four games. In their last game, the Terps defeated in-state rival Johns Hopkins 9-8 in overtime, which provided several areas for the team to work on.
“We had areas of our game where we just weren’t very good,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “Things just didn’t seem like they were going our way the whole time but for them to find a way to win is something we really need to celebrate.”
The Terps’ usually potent offense was held to just nine goals against Hopkins, scoring in single digits for just the first time this season. However, Maryland was very successful on the draw, which has been an area of success for them all season.
The defense has been anchored by senior Lizzie Colson who was recently named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after five ground balls, six draw controls, and three caused turnovers against Johns Hopkins. Colson has been a strong leader of a young Maryland defense that has continued to show growth as the season has progressed.
“Having her back on the field is great, she’s one of the best leaders on the team,” sophomore defender Maddie Sanchez said. “She just builds everyone’s confidence around her which definitely helps us out a lot on the field.”
Ohio State has had a rough stretch in the past few weeks, dropping four games in a row. However, those four losses have been by a combined six goals.
In each of their past three games the Buckeyes have been tied late in the second half, but surrendered the game-winning goal in each contest. Earlier this season Ohio State was ranked No. 19 in the IWLCA rankings, but fell out of the rankings after four consecutive losses.
Graduate student attacker Liza Hernandez has been dominant for the Buckeyes this season, leading the team with 20 goals, 22 points, and 20 draw controls. She has been added to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, a list that also includes Maryland captains Colson, Brindi Griffin and Grace Griffin.
Sophomore attackers Ashley Turner and Nicole Ferrara have been young pieces that have stepped up for the Ohio State offense this year, scoring 13 and 12 points respectively on the season. Graduate student goalie Jillian Rizzo is Ohio State’s all-time saves leader and has been strong this season outside a loss against No. 3 Northwestern where she allowed 17 goals.
One point of emphasis for the Terps against the Buckeyes will be improving their shooting percentage. Despite the Buckeyes’ 1-5 record, Maryland will need to shoot more efficiently if they want to find success against Ohio State.
“Offensively, we had a terrible shooting percentage again coming off of last game,” Reese said. “We’re going to play against a different style of defense. So offensively we need to make sure we understand what we’re looking for so that we can move the ball correctly and create opportunities.”
Maryland’s players and coaches are focused on improving as the season progresses. However, Ohio State is certainly capable of an upset if the Terps aren’t able to raise their shooting percentage.
“I definitely don’t think we’ve seen our peak on offense, we still have a lot of work to do,” senior midfielder Hannah Warther said. “Each week we see improvement which is really exciting to see.”