No. 5 Maryland field hockey falls to Princeton, 3-2

Photo by Mackenzie Miles/Maryland Terrapins

By Ben Geffner

Four minutes into the game, Maryland keeper Paige Kieft prepared for three opposing midfielders heading towards the net. In one swift motion, Kieft shifted to the left and leaned a leg out to deflect two repeated shots on goal.

In spite of the junior keeper’s incredible defensive effort early in the first quarter, the No. 5 Terps couldn’t defend home field and fell 3-2 to the Princeton Tigers.

Another block off of a Princeton penalty corner shot a minute later brought Kieft’s save total to three early in the first. Though the match remained scoreless after the first, the opening 15 minutes provided lots of action. 

Then, with over 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Tigers were awarded a penalty stroke opportunity off of a violation by Delaware native Josie Hollamon. Standing just inside the circle, Princeton senior Sam Davidson made her first goal of the season as she lofted a high shot over Kieft that softly hit the top left of the net.

The rough stretch continued for the Terps just minutes later. Kieft recorded yet another unbelievable save off of a Princeton penalty corner shot, but couldn’t recover in time as Tigers’ freshman Merle Broex tracked down the ball and scooped it in for a second-chance goal. For the first time all season, the Terps found themselves down two goals and in desperation mode near the midway point of the match.

Maryland’s next shot on goal came in the 24th minute of play. On their fifth penalty corner shot of the match, sophomore Hannah Boss powered a shot from the top left of the circle that just narrowly missed the net as it clanked off of the far right goalpost. 

Finally, with 42 seconds left in the second quarter, freshman Maci Bradford powered a diving shot from the left corner that hit nothing but net and put the Terps on the board to end the half.

Head coach Missy Meharg switched things up out of the break, as she went to the bench to swap out Kieft for freshman keeper Alyssa Klebasko, who played all 60 minutes of last Sunday’s win over Yale.

Both teams started out slow in the first few minutes of the third. Then, in the 33rd minute, it was Bradford on the ball yet again. The freshman sensation’s first shot was saved by Princeton keeper Robyn Thompson, but Bradford followed her shot as she tracked down the ball and proceeded to knock it into the back of the net to tie things up. In her second goal of the game and fourth on the season, Bradford gave the Terps all the momentum heading into the final stretch of the match. 

The last five contests between the Terps and Tigers have gone into overtime, and history looked like it would repeat itself. But with just over 30 seconds remaining in the game, disaster struck as Princeton received a penalty corner opportunity. In a last-ditch effort, freshman Ottilie Sykes scored her first goal of the season as she powered a long, straight-line drive that got past Klebasko to put the Tigers up yet again.

“It’s a game of inches when it comes to penalty corners as you saw by [Princeton’s] last shot… that was just perfectly into the corner,” said coach Meharg. “They took advantage of their set pieces and our players would agree that we needed more attention to detail.”

Maryland didn’t get a shot off as time expired, and the Terps’ four-game win streak was snapped in heartbreaking fashion. 

The now 6-2 Terps go on the road this Monday to take on the No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers (5-1) in what’s setting up to be a primetime battle.

“There’s a lot to take from this,” Meharg said. “We’re going to be as positive as possible and take that down to Charlottesville and get ready to play even a better brand [of field hockey].”