Fresh off of an All-Big Ten First Team selection, junior Hope Rose wasted little time placing her mark on the game. After receiving a ground pass, freshman Maci Bradford steadied the ball at the top of the shooting circle before sniping a laser shot past a pair of opposing defenders. Standing just a foot in front of the goal, Rose got a midair stick on the ball, redirecting the shot straight into the back of the net.
“For [Hope] to break in and get back on the board, it’s super important,” stressed head coach Missy Meharg. “She played very well. If she’s not scoring goals, she’s causing other things [defensively].”
The 20th minute goal served as Rose’s first in nearly a month, providing the No. 8 Terps (third seed) with early momentum en route to a huge 2-0 victory over No. 7 Iowa (sixth seed) in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland powered three quick shots to open the first quarter, but couldn’t convert on any – two shots by Rose traveled wide; one shot by Hannah Boss fell short, blocked at the net.
The Hawkeyes received their first penalty corner opportunity in the final seconds of the period. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Dionne van Aalsum collected the insert pass, then aimed a shot in the direction of the goal. But in an incredible effort, Terps’ keeper Alyssa Klebasko dove to the ground, blocking the shot and collecting her first save of the day as time expired.
Though Maryland notched just three second-quarter shots in the wake of Rose’s goal, the Terps’ defense took over. Klebasko’s job was made easy, as the freshman wouldn’t have to touch the ball in the final 10 minutes of the half. Swarming perimeter pressure by Rayne Wright, Maura Verleg, and Ericka Morris-Adams held the Hawkeyes scoreless with zero shots attempted as the halftime buzzer sounded.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Terps received just their second penalty corner opportunity of the day – well under their season average of 5.89 corners per game. Margot Lawn inserted a pass to Sammy Popper, who powered a tough shot towards the net. But just inches from the goal line, Hawkeyes’ keeper Mia Magnotta put a leg out to stop the ball in its tracks.
Two minutes later, Popper answered right back. Just inside the shooting circle, the graduate student dribbled to her right, straight into a double team. Methodically crossing the ball over, Popper weaved through traffic, creating separation as she knocked a shot that whizzed past the outstretched arms of Magnotta and into the back of the net.
Heading into the fourth quarter with a two-nothing lead and some much needed breathing room, Maryland’s defense held strong once more, executing a near flawless defensive masterclass by limiting the Hawkeyes to just two shots on goal in the period.
The first came from van Aalsum off of a penalty corner opportunity. Just as the freshman lined up a shot, Verleg and Wright flew over, creating on-ball pressure and forcing the ball wide out of bounds.
Then, in the final minutes of the match, Iowa’s Miranda Jackson lofted the second shot towards the net for the Hawkeyes. But per usual, Klebasko intercepted it – collecting her second save of the day to ice the game.
“Alyssa [only having] to make two saves was huge,” Meharg emphasized. “Our one-on-one defense was absolutely relentless.”
After their second win over the Hawkeyes this year, the Terps now move to an impressive 15-5 on the season, holding a 20-6-1 all-time series record over Iowa.
Maryland gets no time to rest, as they head right back to the turf tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. to take on No. 5 Rutgers (two seed) in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal matchup.
“[This is] November, Big Ten Championship month,” Meharg said. “It’s just a testament to the fact that you can keep advancing, and that’s our goal. I can feel it… it’s exciting.”