Though there weren't any Towson attackers in sight for much of the Maryland field hockey team's Friday win, goalkeeper Sarah Holliday made constant noise.
Holliday alternated between, "Good job!"; "Stay on the ball!"; and "Look right!" or "Look left!" She admits at certain points it was "useless fluff talk," but it kept her engaged in the game and interacting with the backline.
It was all part of the Terps' strategy, coach Missy Meharg said, to maintain possession and dominate the game. Maryland fired off a program-record 58 shots, while Towson didn't attempt one.
Holliday's approach in the Terrapin Invitational tournament opener against Towson proved beneficial during Sunday's matchup with No. 9 Louisville. It helped the Terps keep Louisville forward Nicole Woods and an attacking unit that hadn't yet been held scoreless this season off the board in Maryland's 1-0 win.
"She's staying on her feet," Meharg said. "That's what we work on every day. Sarah handled that one-on-one like a top level goalie."
After defeating Towson, Maryland players sat in the stands to watch Louisville's first contest of the weekend against American, a perk of the tournament-style setting. In that contest — a 2-1 Cardinals win — Woods scored about eight minutes in to give the Cardinals an advantage. Two minutes later, Louisville demonstrated its offensive potential with another goal.
But the Terps prevented a similar goalscoring display on Sunday.
Defender Bodil Keus scored in the 47th minute against the Cardinals to give Maryland the lead. Led by Woods, Louisville seemed poised to respond, becoming more aggressive and earning a penalty corner opportunity about a minute later.
The penalty corner attempt sailed wide right, and Holliday's presence helped the Terps secure the win in the low-scoring contest. Holliday saved Louisville's final attempt to tie the game — midfielder a shot off Holliday's pad by Katie Walsh with about four minutes remaining in regulation.
Holliday ended the day with just four saves, but her presence kept Maryland organized. Woods took three of Louisville' eight shots, one of which came on goal. But none snuck past Holliday.
"I had more of a role in making sure we're forcing girls to the outside," Holliday said. "Keeping them where they're supposed to be. [Against Towson], they could do that all on their own because we were completely dominating."
Holliday, who recorded a career-high 13 saves in Maryland's loss to then-No. 2 Duke on Sept. 1, has responded to increased playing time. After splitting time in goal with Sarah Bates last season, she has started each of the Terps' first five contests, adding stability between the pipes.
And regardless of whether an opposing team's most potent offensive threats is testing her, she can always be heard.
"She's always there," freshman defender Hannah Bond said. "She's got my back. She's communicating. I can hear her [and] I know she won't let me down."