Posted: 7:00 a.m. Monday, Sept. 30, 2013
By Todd Carton
One of the hits from Meat Loaf's first album is the great Jim Steinman power ballad "Two out of Three Ain't Bad". Unfortunately, the three Maryland women's teams in action Sunday fell one win short of that aspiration. The volleyball squad may have suffered a more significant loss than the 3-1 decision to Clemson while women's soccer suffered another loss to a top five team on the road dropping a 1-0 match at top ranked Virginia. The number two ranked Terrapin field hockey defeated seventh ranked UMass 4-1 in Amherst in a game that was more of a struggle than the final makes it appear.
I'll start with volleyball since I saw that one live. In the first set, the Terps came out looking like a team ready to take care of business. After a handful of early ties and lead changes, Maryland tied the score at five on a kill by Emily Fraik. The Terps then took a 6-5 lead on a solo block by Fraik and never trailed again. Though the game lacked a back and forth competitive flow, certain points were exceptionally rousing including the twelfth point of the match that featured a diving dig at the net by Sarah Harper and finishing with a quick kill from setter Amy Dion. Later in the set, Dion became the queen of the pancake digs (for those who don't know a pancake occurs when a player dives to the floor with her arm extended and gets the back of her hand between the ball and the floor) picking up two in close succession. The first led to a Clemson attack error and gave the Terps a 21-17 edge. The second came two points later on Fraik's serve and led to an Ashlyn MacGregor kill that put Maryland up by the same six point final margin as the Terps took set one 25-19. The exceptionally high six blocks contributed significantly to the set victory.
As the second set began, it looked like the Terps had carried over the momentum from the first as they rolled out to a 9-5 lead. However, Clemson fought back to tie the score at eleven but Maryland went on another small spurt scoring five of the nest seven to recapture a 16-13 lead. Much like basketball, coaches use timeouts in volleyball principally to stop the opponent's momentum and a Clemson timeout with the score at 16-13 did just that. The Tigers roared out the timeout to score six straight before Adreene Elliott's kill stopped the streak. Shortly thereafter, misfortune struck Maryland. Trailing 21-19, Mary Cushman went up for a kill and landed on someone's ankle. The senior from Rochester crumpled in pain and had to be helped off the court. The Terps tried valiantly to stay in the set but absent their two principal outside hitters, couldn't complete the rally and fell by a 25-22 final.
Maryland came out of the break determined to let their defense make up for the absence of two of their main offensive threats as they scrambled all over the court to continually dig out of multi-point deficits and keep the set competitive. After falling behind 8-3 early, the Terps came back to take a 10-9 lead in a stretch that featured two block assists by freshman Chavi St. Hill and another flying dig by Sarah Harper. Maryland stretched the lead to 15-13 on a point that featured to jump out of your seat digs that preceded an Elliott kill. Once again, Clemson rallied and with the score standing at 19-17 Tigers, a long rally appeared to end with a Terrapin kill However, a dispute on the call between the chair and floor official led to a replay of the point and the visitors won the replay. Rather than trailing 19-18, Maryland found themselves on the short end of a 20-17 score. This team doesn't quit, though and they got a spark from an unexpected source. Freshman Alex Brown, after an admittedly "emotionally tough week of practice came off the bench with the Terps trailing 23-20. Over the next seven points, she registered four of her team high seven kills for the set leading the Terps to a set point at 25-24. Maryland failed to take advantage and the Tigers came back to take the set 28-26. The fourth set was a case of the spirit being willing but the intensity and organization being weak. The combination of players playing at unfamiliar positions, playing in unexpected combinations, and the emotionally draining third set loss led to a dispirited and disorganized fourth set that Clemson won easily by a 25-16 final.
There were some notable statistical milestones in the loss. Emily Fraik, who set career highs in kills and digs on Friday's match against Georgia Tech bettered those on Sunday registering 18 kills and 16 digs. Sarah Harper's team leading 26 digs inched her ever closer to third place on the all-time career lead and freshman Alex Brown set a personal best with eleven kills for the match equaling her season total to this point. The Terps continue their home stand with a 7 pm match against Virginia Friday, October 4.
Speaking of Virginia, the Maryland women's soccer team, looking to rebound from a tough 5-0 loss at Notre Dame Thursday night traveled to Charlottesville to face off against the top ranked Cavaliers. The Terps showed some resilience and fought hard but were unable to spring the upset falling 1-0.
Maryland had some good chances with the first coming in the sixteenth minute when freshman Lauren Berman launched a shot from long range that Cavs goalkeeper Morgan Stearns saved. Stearns made another save on a shot from Hayley Brock after the senior worked her way free in the box after a cross from Riley Barger. In the thirty-fourth minute, Brock made a run down the right flank getting off her shot as two Virginia defenders closed in but it sailed just high. A defensive turnover in the back third led to the game's only goal coming on a chip shot from 12 yards with just 22 seconds remaining in the half. Maryland keeper Rachelle Beanlands had been sterling to that point turning away several quality looks including a highlight reel diving save off a UVA corner kick in the seventeenth minute.
Unlike Thursday's effort, the Terrapins didn't want for chances in the second half. The first came in the 57th minute when Brock took a diagonal ball from Natasha Ntone-Kouo, cleared space around two Cavalier defenders and launched a shot that caromed off the crossbar. Maryland had two chances late. In the eighty-first minute, senior Megan Gibbons found herself in open space and took a shot toward the upper right corner that sailed just wide of the mark. A Virginia foul with eight seconds left gave the Terrapins a free kick in their offensive third but Maryland couldn't get a clean foot on the ball as time expired.
"By no means am I happy with the result but I am certainly proud of our teams response from Thursday," said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan. He added, "Notre Dame bruised our ego pretty bad so to get the effort and performance we did today shows the character of these kids. We have to take away the positives and continue to move forward. I know the results are about to come." Those interested in seeing if Coach Morgan is a prophet can come watch them take on the N.C. State Wolfpack at 7 pm Thursday, October 3.
Finally we get to field hockey. Playing their second game in three days and their third without All-ACC forward Jill Witmer, the Terrapins traveled to Amherst to take on the seventh ranked UMass Minutewomen. Again, I'm reporting from web summaries and box scores but if statistics provide some measure of a game, the Terps won by playing outstanding defense, getting another solid performance in goal from Natalie Hunter, and being particularly efficient on the offensive end while being statistically dominated. UMass became the first team to out shoot Maryland holding the Terps to a season low eight shots and while Old Dominion managed more penalty corners in that match, it was far from the 12-3 edge the Minutewomen held in Sunday's game. That Hunter had only three saves speaks to the solidity of the Terrapin defense in those situations.
In a curious parallel to the soccer match, the field hockey game remained scoreless until under a minute to play in the first half. Unlike the game in Charlottesville, it was the Terps who broke through. After dribbling into the left side of the circle, sophomore Anna Dessoye broke the scoreless deadlock with a shot high into the right side of the cage providing a 1-0 lead and some important momentum heading into the second half.
After three UMass penalty corners in the first nine minutes of the second half, redshirt freshman Emma Rissinger took a shot in the 46th minute that trickled through the legs of UMass goalkeeper Sam Carlino. Dessoye followed just four minutes later with her second score of the match. Alyssa Parker crossed a pass from the right center across the goal and Dessoye lifted the shot into the top of the cage for a 3-0 Maryland lead. The Minutewomen cut the lead to two on a rebound goal with eleven minutes to play. With under a minute to play, Parker picked up her second assist of the afternoon crossing a pass to Hayley Turner who flicked the ball between her own legs for the score and the final 4-1 margin.
Maryland will likely head into their match up with North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday as the nation's top ranked team. The previously top ranked Tar Heels fell in a shootout to Duke Friday night. The Terps return home Tuesday night at 7 pm when they will face the Hofstra Pride.