No. 3 Maryland field hockey vs. No. 8 Princeton Preview


No. 3 Maryland field hockey ends their two-game road trip with a top-10 showdown with the No. 8 Princeton Tigers on Tuesday at 4 pm

The Terps (7-0) picked up their first conference victory of the season with a 4-2 defeat of the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes on Sept. 16. Maryland overcame a 2-1 deficit in the final quarter by scoring three unanswered goals, led by graduate midfielder Danielle van Rootselaar. The Brown transfer’s two goals scored led all players in the contest.

Princeton (3-3) is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to last year’s national champion, the Northwestern Wildcats. A third-quarter goal to take the lead wouldn’t be enough, as Northwestern would find the equalizer in the final frame to force overtime. The Tigers fell after relinquishing a nifty goal in the extra period.

Maryland will look to pick up its fifth victory over an opponent ranked in the top 25, while Princeton will look to hand the Terps their first loss of the season.

The Terps own a 26-9-1 record over Princeton, winning their matchup last season in overtime, 4-3.

Now, let’s look at the Princeton Tigers.

Princeton Tigers (3-3)

2021 record: 10-7 (6-1 Ivy League)

Princeton is led by head coach Carla Tagliente, who’s entering her seventh season guiding the program. Since being hired in 2016, she led the Tigers to five consecutive seasons of 10 wins or more.

In her inaugural season with Princeton, she led it to a second-place finish in the conference and an appearance in the Final Four. The two-time Ivy League Coach of the Year has established the Tigers as a formidable opponent during postseason play and will look to compete for the conference crown annually.

The 2019 season was one to remember for Princeton. The Tigers went 16-5, while tying the program’s second-longest streak of consecutive games won (13). Tagliente’s club would go on to secure an Ivy League title and their fourth appearance in the national championship game.

Tagliente was a three-time First Team NFHCA All-American during her illustrious playing career at Maryland from 1998-2001. She was a key member of the Terps’ 1999 championship team that only lost one game that season. The former student-athlete was the program’s leader in career goals (87) until former All-American Nicole Muracco broke her record on Oct. 16, 2010.

The former Terp has amassed a 132-79 record in her head coaching career, appearing in three Final Fours and seven NCAA Tournaments.

With two coaching stops at Princeton and Massachusetts, Tagliente has proven that she is capable of leading her team into championship contention. Princeton will look to secure a statement victory at home over No. 3 Maryland.

Players to know

Beth Yeager, sophomore midfielder, No. 17 — Yeager is tied for the team lead with four goals and three assists. She also leads Princeton with 25 shots. Since arriving on campus, she has become an intricate part of one of the premier teams in the Ivy League. In her freshman campaign, she made history by recording 16 goals in her debut season for the Tigers. Last season, Yeager became the first player in program history to be a First Team All-American as a freshman. The unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year is aggressive and will look to pressure Maryland’s cage the entire evening.

Sammy Popper, senior forward, No. 16 — The First Team All-Ivy League member is tied with Yeager with four goals and is an aggressive forward yearning for scoring opportunities. Popper has a 90.9 shots on goal percentage, displaying her ability to add effectiveness to a talented Princeton offense. The Pennsylvania native has 11 shots through six games, and it’s safe to assume that she will continue pressuring opponents’ cages at a high rate.

Ali McCarthy, senior forward, No. 24 — McCarthy enters the game as one of the most experienced players on a Princeton team looking to compete for a conference championship. She has accumulated two goals and three assists this season. History was accomplished last season when McCarthy received First Team All-Ivy League honors, a feat two of her sisters also accomplished.

Strength

Save. Princeton has played strong defense this season, as it is allowing 1.83 goals per game. Junior goalkeeper Robyn Thompson has defended the cage well, ranking second in the conference with 34 saves through six games. The Tigers are positioned to compete in every game due to their strong defense and Thompson’s ability to thwart goals away from the net.

Weakness

Shots. The Tigers average 11.3 shots per game, ranking sixth in the Ivy League. Princeton has several teams with potent offenses on their schedule and keeping up in the scoring column is an area that should be monitored. While the Tigers average 2.83 goals per game, that number could increase if they can generate more shots at the cage.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland move to 8-0 before a home Big Ten matchup awaits? The Terps are looking to move to 8-0 for the first time since 2018. Maryland has relied heavily on its defense to shut down opposing offenses, as it has allowed 1.1 goals per game. The calendar will shift to October soon, which means the importance of the Terps’ games will heighten as the Big Ten schedule ramps up. Michigan will travel to College Park for a Friday night conference tilt with the Terps.

2. Will Maryland’s offense carry the momentum from last game? In its last game against Ohio State, Maryland headed into the fourth quarter down 2-1 with their offense struggling to score the tying goal. The Terps responded by scoring three consecutive goals to secure a 4-2 victory over the Buckeyes. At one point, Maryland recorded two goals in less than two minutes, showcasing its quick strike ability and explosiveness on offense. It is quite the task to slow down Maryland’s offense when it is operating at such a high clip. Maryland sophomore forward Hope Rose leads an offense that is third in the country with 4.3 goals per contest.

3. How will the Terps defense respond after an uncharacteristic game? In its victory over Ohio State, Maryland struggled to prevent players from entering the circle for the majority of the game. The Buckeyes were able to convert their favorable scoring positions into goals, forcing the Terps into their first fourth-quarter deficit of the season. Maryland’s defense has been pivotal to its hot start to the season and figures to play a part in the outcome of their season.

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