In 2001, Michigan defeated Maryland to win the NCAA Tournament. But in the 16 seasons since, the Wolverines went winless against the Terrapins — until their double overtime victory earlier this season, that is.
The two teams faced off once again on Friday afternoon for a spot in the NCAA championship game.
No. 3 Michigan (8-0 Big Ten, 21-2 overall) faced off against a No. 9 Maryland (6-2 Big Ten, 15-6 overall) team coming off an upset of No. 3 Duke. The Terrapins continued their impressive run by handing the Wolverines a 5-1 loss — their worst of the season — and ended their streaks of 18 consecutive victories and six straight shutouts.
Maryland came out strong, scoring a goal four minutes into the first half on a redirection off the stick of midfielder Madison Maguire. The ball sneaked past senior goalkeeper Sam Swenson into the far corner of the cage — the first goal allowed by Michigan in the entire postseason.
This early goal, coupled with the Terrapins’ upbeat tempo set the tone, and the Wolverines were unable to recover.
“They were beating us to almost every ball, and that created some havoc for us,” said Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz. “They got a fortunate tip in the circle and got up 1-0, and we were just on our heels all game.”
Maryland’s pesky defense would not allow Michigan to control possession as it has done so well throughout the season. And the Terrapin offense continued to generate scoring opportunities. One such opportunity came with 11 minutes remaining in the first half on a low, hard direct shot off a penalty corner to put Maryland up 2-0.
The Wolverines went into the half with a two-goal deficit — uncharted territory for the Big Ten champions, who had not trailed at the half since September 8 against William & Mary.
The Terrapins stunned Michigan by scoring a minute into the second half to extend their lead to 3-0 by cleaning up in front of the net on a loose ball. The Wolverines now faced their largest deficit of the season and did not look like the same team that had gone undefeated for over two months.
But there was a glimmer of hope. Fifth-year senior forward Carly Bennett scored 10 minutes later as she cleaned up a ball sent across the cage by freshman midfielder Kayla Reed after an impressive run through Maryland’s defense. Michigan finally got on the board and faced a manageable two-goal deficit with 25 minutes remaining in the game.
“Personally, after the first goal, I was like, ‘We can still do this.’ ” Bennett said. “It’s one goal and it’s the semifinal game, so I was like, ‘We’re fine, we still got this.’ ”
But Maryland quickly answered with a goal five minutes after the Wolverines got on the board. The Terrapins scored on a ball sent in from outside the circle which hit the goal post, rebounded in front of the cage and was quickly cleaned up for a goal.
Michigan was unable to generate any offense as Maryland continued to control pace and possession — two areas of the game in which the Wolverines have thrived this season. The Terrapins added one final goal with six minutes remaining after Michigan pulled Swenson from goal.
“I think Maryland played at a much higher tempo today than they did the last time we played them,” Pankratz said. “We had to play quicker, and our execution wasn’t as fast as it could have been.”
Despite the disappointing finish, the Wolverines ended their season as the winningest team in program history.
“I leave today with a smile on my face because it was just an awesome run,” Pankratz said. “(This team) will go down as one of our best ever, and I just couldn’t be more proud of them.”