Oct. 24, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - For the third time this season, the Maryland field hockey team sits atop the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll as the number one team in the nation. Facing a battle with Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina on Saturday, the Terrapins hope that the third time is the charm after dropping home games each of the first two times.
Maryland (14-2, 3-1) has ridden a potent offense and a punishing defense to a four-game winning streak. Junior Nicole Muracco (Sewell, N.J./Washington Township) scored five goals in two games, including a career-high four in the Terps' 5-0 victory at No. 12 Princeton. She added the game-winner in a tense, come-from-behind 2-1 triumph at Old Dominion. When Maryland returned home to take on Delaware, it was sophomore Katie O'Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa./Wissahickon) and senior Emma Thomas (High Wycombe, England/Wycombe) whose five combined goals led Maryland to a 7-0 victory.
The offense has been impressive, but it has been a defense which has given up just two goals over the four-game streak that has been the backbone of the Terrapins' success. Junior goalie Alicia Grater (Gilbertsville, Pa./Boyertown Area) has registered two shutouts, but the defense in front of her has allowed few shots even to give Grater a test. In three of the four victories, the defense has allowed three or fewer shots to the opponent.
The Terps will need to maintain that high level of play on Saturday when they take on North Carolina. The Tar Heels (12-3, 3-1) come into the contest tied with Maryland for the lead in the ACC. Both squads rank in the top ten nationally both offensively and defensively. North Carolina is led by Danielle Forward, who has poured in 16 goals while averaging 3.0 points per game. They also boast the nation's top goalie, as sophomore Jackie Kintzer is allowing just 0.49 goals per game with an .846 save percentage.
As it is this year, the matchup between the Terps and Tar Heels was one of the premier games of the season last year, as the No. 2 Terps traveled to No. 1 North Carolina. Both teams came into the game undefeated, but it was North Carolina which emerged with a 3-0 victory. Now in College Park, the Terps will be looking to reverse that decision.
Game time is set for 1:00 p.m., giving Maryland fans a chance to see the game before the homecoming football game at 3:30 p.m. Admission to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex is free. Fans will be directed to park in Lot 4i, where parking will be available for $15.