Nov. 10, 2018 – The steady rain hummed in the background as the Maryland Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex prepared for two battles between four teams to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Yesterday, I made the trek to College Park to watch two first round games: Albany vs. Maryland and Rutgers vs. Connecticut. This was my first-time attending NCAA tournament games and it was an awesome experience, even though it rained practically the entire time. Three of the four teams showcased were teams I had never seen, so it was amazing seeing these teams in-person.
Notes from the Bleachers breaks down my thoughts and observations from the two games at College Park in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Game 1: Maryland 2, Albany 1
— Maryland Field Hockey (@TerpsFH) November 10, 2018
Game 2: Connecticut 5, Rutgers 0
— UConn Field Hockey (@UConnFHockey) November 9, 2018
Takeaways from College Park Regional Round 1
Something to Prove
Before round 1 of the NCAA tournament began, I read an article about Maryland’s ambitions for the tournament. Each team at this regional had something to push them in hopes of getting to the next round. Maryland is looking to assert the dominance similar to the teams in the mid-2000s. After falling to Connecticut in the National Championship last year, they’re looking to keep their momentum and win a national title. Connecticut is the defending national champions and they’re looking to return to defend their title, despite facing some obstacles during the regular season. They suffered three non-conference losses to opponents ranked in the top-10 of the NFHCA rankings (Maryland, Princeton, North Carolina). Rutgers secured their first bid to the NCAA tournament since 1986 after a season they went 13-5 and was looking to keep their season going.
As a former defender, I’m always amazed by the defense of various teams. In field hockey, defense is such an important piece even though it’s not often reflected in the stat sheet. In the two games, three teams made a defensive save to back up their goalie. In game one, Maryland defender Hannah Bond recorded the first defensive save to help preserve Maryland’s 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Rutgers defender Austyn Cuneo dove to save a rolling rebound from trickling over the goal line in game two. Connecticut defender Lindsay Dickinson added a defensive save to keep Rutgers off the board. Even though Albany did not register a defensive save, their defense stood tough against Maryland in the first half. After the conclusion of the first half, we thought an upset was brewing because of Albany’s tough defense. Eventually, Maryland broke through for a 2-1 win. The defensive efforts of all four teams were not overlooked in first round.
Penalty corners are probably my favorite thing about field hockey. The deceptiveness, the various shots and the different setups of different teams. Albany drew first blood off a corner to take the early lead over Maryland. Early in the second half, Maryland struck off at penalty corner to even the score 1-1. I liked the set up of Connecticut’s penalty corners because of the wicked direct shots that are taken. Albany, Maryland and Connecticut converted on at least one penalty corner, as Rutgers didn’t convert at all. Penalty corners played an important role in the first game because the early corner by Albany led to an early goal, causing Maryland to have to come from behind to secure the win.
Regional Final: Maryland vs. Connecticut
With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Maryland and Connecticut will face off in the regional final for the second time this season. Maryland defeated Connecticut 4-2 during the regular season meeting on Sept. 30.
While These Games were Going on…
Chapel Hill Regional
North Carolina shot past William & Mary 4-0.
Michigan squeezed past St. Joseph 3-2.
Princeton edged Virginia 2-1.
Harvard routed Penn State 6-1.
Duke slipped past Miami (OH) 1-0.
Wake Forest edged Iowa 3-2