Maryland field hockey head coach Missy Meharg boasted earlier this week about the Big Ten's success against ACC teams thus far in 2017. Michigan topped UNC and Penn State defeated Virginia, both notable victories for teams trying to keep pace with other conferences.
Meharg's team was the latest to have the opportunity to compete against an ACC foe, with the Terps playing their first game of the ACC/Big Ten Cup in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, against No. 2 Duke on Friday night.
For the second time in as many seasons, though, the Blue Devils topped the Terps, all but shutting down Maryland's attack in its 2-0 loss, the first of the year.
"We opened up a bit slow," Meharg said. "If we had the opportunity to play our second half the first half, I think we'd see a different outcome."
Unlike in last season's loss to the Blue Devils, when Maryland created opportunities and outshot Duke, the Blue Devils' attack was aggressive from the outset and maintained that approach.
Duke forward Ashley Kristen started the scoring less than five minutes into the game. Her shot on a rebound near the inside post gave the Blue Devils a one-goal lead.
Then, with 18 minutes remaining in the first, Duke forward Ainsley Gill scored off a penalty corner from the top of the circle to double the Blue Devils' advantage. It proved to be all the scoring Duke would need.
Maryland, which didn't attempt a shot until more than halfway through the opening period, was outshot, 20-5, and didn't receive many chances.
The Terps' best scoring opportunity came later in the first half, when forward Linnea Gonzales' shot off a penalty corner missed wide right.
Maryland was able to threaten in the circle twice over a three-minute period in the second, but a whistle and Duke steal ended the burst. Forward Julie Duncan and midfielder Madison Maguire took back-to-back shots with seven minutes remaining in the game, but both were saved.
"We need to keep the ball flowing," Meharg said.
The Blue Devils, meanwhile, remained aggressive. They attempted 15 shots on goal, while Maryland earned just two attempts.
And if it weren't for Terps goalkeeper Sarah Holliday, who recorded six first half saves and ended the night with a career-high 13, the Terps might have been facing a more daunting deficit.
Again, a young Maryland team fell to Duke, which built on the ACC success Meharg aims to rival.
"Duke was a fantastic team tonight," Meharg said.