By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — They’ll beat Maryland again one day, UVa’s field hockey players and coaches know. With a spirited crowd cheering them on, the Cavaliers were on the verge of that breakthrough Friday night, only to see the Terrapins prevail for the 14th straight time in this series.
Maryland, the nation’s top-ranked team, edged No. 3 Virginia 2-1 in overtime at the University Hall Turf Field.
“I give so much credit to Maryland,” UVa junior Rachel Jennings said. “We did most of our game plan, and they just always find a way. They’re pretty relentless, and they’ve always been that way.”
Since Michele Madison took over as coach in 2006, the Wahoos have compiled a 68-32 record and beaten every other team in the ACC at least once, with one exception: the Terps.
“They’re just a great team, and they never give up,” said senior Paige Selenski, the All-American who put the Cavaliers ahead 1-0 with a goal in the sixth minute.
Four of the past five games in this series have been decided in sudden-death overtime, a period in which each team has seven players, including the goalkeeper, instead of the customary 11.
Overtime, Madison said, is “a big keepaway game on a massive field. It’s [about] not forcing the ball and really trying to slide the defense until a hole opens up and then getting the ball into the hands of someone who can score.”
UVa (1-1, 9-1) took possession to begin overtime and almost immediately had an outstanding chance to score, but its shot missed the mark.
Maryland (3-0, 9-1) was more efficient. Virginia foiled the Terps’ first penalty corner of OT, but on the second, Jemma Buckley passed to Katie O’Donnell, perhaps the nation’s best player, and the senior forward tipped in the game-winner, 3 minutes and 16 seconds into the extra period.
“The whole overtime game is just a matter of possession,” Selenski said. “We needed to keep possession of the ball, and we didn’t do that as well today.”
In the first half, Buckley, a junior from Australia, had scored the goal that pulled Maryland to 1-1. She was playing against her sister for the first time. Elly Buckley, a first-year forward, led UVa with six shots, five of which were on goal.
In the final minute of the second half, Selenski burst into the clear at Maryland’s end, and a dramatic ending seemed imminent. But the Terps closed quickly on her, and Selenski’s shot was wide of the cage.
“It was a perfect opportunity,” Selenski said. “I needed to put it away. It was one of those where I was like, ‘I’m just going to smash this ball,’ and then I flubbed it. I just need to be more composed.”
For the game, Maryland had 12 penalty corners, to only 6 for UVa. Nine came in the first half for the Terps, who were coming off a 4-2 loss at Princeton.
“Our defensive objective was to minimize the corners, and we certainly didn’t do that,” Madison said. “If we want to win in the ACC, we have to be able to shut down the corners and play cleaner defense.”
Virginia plays twice next week, both times at the U-Hall Turf Field. The ‘Hoos host Longwood on Wedneday and Princeton on Friday.
The ACC tournament starts Nov. 4 in Winston-Salem, N.C., and there’s an excellent chance Virginia will meet Maryland again there. Still another matchup, in the NCAA tournament, could follow.
“Hopefully by the end of the season, we’re going to figure out a way to beat them,” Jennings said. “Every single game, it’s just kind of little training for these big games, how we’ve got to play for 70 minutes, and we’ve got to put the ball away.”