By: Max Marcilla
The No. 5 Maryland Terrapins proved just how good they can be in a 2-1 victory over the No. 1 Connecticut Huskies.
Behind a stellar game by goalkeeper Sarah Bates, and goals from Grace Balsdon and Welma Luus, Maryland picked up its second win against a top-5 opponent in the past week. It was Maryland’s first win against a No. 1 ranked team since it defeated North Carolina in the 2011 National Championship.
“UConn is a team that’s been to the Final Four all of the seasons their seniors have been there,” Terps head coach Missy Meharg said. “We played well enough to win. I think with a team like this, Maryland is so mentally tough.”
The Terrapins displayed that mental toughness early after Connecticut’s Anna Middendorf opened the scoring with a shot off a penalty corner, giving the Huskies an early lead.
“I think UConn’s mature,” Meharg said. “I think when you look at that many seniors that have type of experience, right at the end, they like to come out and play [at a] championship level.”
But while the shot put the Terps behind, they responded tremendously well.
“It was a great shot,” Meharg said. “What really was exciting was that right afterwards, Sarah Bates had a similar shot, similar spot, and made a really great save on it… I didn’t feel that in any way Maryland was down. We went right back, we created chances, and stayed in the game.”
Bates, who made six saves in the win, helped keep the deficit at one until the Terps offense struck thanks to Balsdon’s 12th goal of the season in the 22nd minute.
Then, with just over four minutes to go until halftime, Luus reclaimed the team-lead in goals with her 13th score, a gorgeous backhanded rebound.
Luus, the former tennis star, credited the goal to her two-sport background.
“I actually was [thinking about tennis during the goal],” Luus said with a laugh. “It came straight to that side and its reactive tennis — you have to react quick to both sides. I guess it just kicked in.”
Although the Terps just handed the Huskies their first loss of the 2016 season, Luus believes the team still has room to improve.
“Every single one of us came to compete,” Luus said. “We didn’t even play our best hockey, but we were all just really hungry for the win and gave it all we’ve got for 70 minutes… I think there’s still so much room to improve and that’s so exciting heading into [the] postseason”
Before the Terrapins play in the Big Ten tournament, they will host No. 9 Virginia and Rutgers as they look to finish the season undefeated on their home turf.