No. 3 Maryland field hockey exit in Final Four for the second straight year, falling to No. 2 Northwestern, 2-1

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

The Terps had one more chance to force overtime, earning a penalty corner with one second left on the clock. 

Forward Hope Rose took the shot, but a Wildcat flier deflected the ball out and above the net. The Northwestern players streamed onto the field in celebration towards the goal. 

No. 3 Maryland field hockey (19-4) could not complete the frantic comeback falling to No. 2 Northwestern (20-4), 2-1, exiting in the Final Four for the second straight season. 

“Obviously not the outcome that we wanted,” defender Riley Donnelly said with tears in her eyes. “But this team is so special. We fought so hard until the last minute.”

The game seemed to be over with two minutes left. Maryland pulled goalie Christina Calandra with about 2:15 left, looking for the equalizer.

Instead, Northwestern earned a breakaway with midfielder Chloe Redfield scoring on the empty net, putting the Terps in a 2-0 hole with 1:50 left in the game. 

The Terps did not quit. Donnelly sent a long pass from the corner into the circle to midfielder Emma DeBerdine, who snuck the ball into the left goal post, quickly cutting the deficit to one. 

That set up for a wild final 1:13 left in the game. The Terps earned a penalty corner with 35 seconds left, but Wildcats goalie Annabel Skubisz saved midfielder Danielle van Rootselaar’s shot. 

The Terps used their video referral to question whether Skubisz covered the ball with her pads, if so, a stroke would be awarded. The refs could not clearly overturn the call, and Northwestern had a free hit. 

“I actually thought that we would get the stroke,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “You know why not? We’ve been pretty magical, we’ve had some super luck come our way.” 

The Terps earned that last-second penalty corner as van Rootselaar heaved a ball into the circle with five seconds left. No player corralled the ball, but a collision occurred in the circle, and the refs awarded Maryland one last chance. 

The first three quarters were a defensive back-and-forth battle, with neither team able to sustain much offensive attack. 

Northwestern had the better looks in the first half, with Calandra making two emphatic saves and containing Northwestern on their three corners. 

At halftime, the teams had just combined for seven shots, with most of the play happening in the midfield. 

The Terps had a chance to break through at the end of the third quarter firing three shots, two coming on a penalty corner, but Skubisz saved all three of them. Skubisz finished with five saves. 

“We’ve played the greatest hockey probably in this last game that we have,” defender Rayne Wright said. “We just got to get balls in the back of the net.”

Northwestern finally broke through early in the fourth quarter. On the Wildcats’ other penalty corners, they used other players as their strikers, not their star forward Bente Baekers, who leads the team with 23 goals. This time, the Wildcats turned to Baekers, who delivered a strike giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead. 

“She’s probably scored 35 goals in her career on that exact shot from that same angle,” Meharg said. “I mean, you can [only] look at it so much. She’s a heck of a player.” 

DeBerdine flashed the resiliency the Terps have shown all season, but that resiliency ran out in Storrs, Connecticut. 

The loss marks the end of the Maryland careers of program stalwarts Donnelly and midfielder Bibi Donraadt, and impact grad transfers van Rootselaar and Leah Crouse, who helped the Terps earn this Final Four appearance. 

Northwestern will look to defend their National Championship title on Sunday when the Wildcats take on No. 1 North Carolina in the National Championship game at 1:30 p.m.