Maryland field hockey head coach Missy Meharg said the Terps have a specific understanding of how to approach the arcs on each side of the field.
"The arc around our circle is like a turtle shell, and the one on the front is a turtle shell," Meharg said. "Up there, we're going to collectively break that thing down. Down here, we're not going to let the ball through the shell."
The problem is three games into the season, Maryland hasn't had much success accomplishing either, most notably struggling to execute its attack plans.
After a 2-1 loss to No. 12 Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Cup on Sunday, the No. 6 Terps matched a similar stretch from last season, when they fell to Syracuse and Duke consecutively. They secured the Big Ten regular season title but failed to reach the final four.
Now without its two top goal scorers from that squad, Meharg's team has struggled to generate offense, with the exception of executing on penalty corners. Maryland's lone goal against the Eagles came off of such an attempt, with defender Bodil Keus connecting for her second score this season.
The Terps couldn't capitalize on a second half during which they had six penalty corner opportunities.
"We dominated the second half," Meharg said. "We're rotating six and seven first-year players. For us, it's about getting these touches and these minutes and these halves."
Two days after being shut out by No. 2 Duke, the No. 6 Terps were aggressive and moved the ball into the circle. Against Boston College, freshman midfielder Brooke DeBerdine led that effort. But on multiple occasions, Maryland was unable to capitalize.
The Eagles outshot the Terps, 13-9, despite Maryland coming out of the second half more aggressive. Meharg's squad took three shots over a three-minute period just minutes into the second.
Those missed opportunities proved to be the difference against the Eagles, who scored what would become the game-winner on midfielder Fusine Govaert's strike with 27 minutes remaining. Despite allowing the Terps to score, the Eagles' defense maintained its lead.
"It's always a good opportunity for us to play the highest level of field hockey," midfielder Lein Holsboer said. "We're definitely growing as a team."
Maryland's defense was effective after Boston College got on the board first, when forward Caroline McGovern took control of a loose ball and deposited it into the net with about 26 minutes remaining in the first half.
But Maryland came out slow on the attack for the second time in as many games and struggled to generate offense in the game's opening minutes.
The Terps didn't get a shot off until Olivia Reiter's attempt was saved with about eight minutes remaining in the first.
After the Blue Devils handed the Terps their first loss this weekend, Meharg praised the team's second-half approach. Maryland's adjustments again seemed valuable Sunday, but the Terps were unable to tie the game.
"These top 10, top 15 teams on the schedule early," Meharg said, "are a real positive for this developing team."