The No. 17 Maryland field hockey team was 6-0 in East Lansing, Michigan, entering Friday's contest against Michigan State.
So, the Michigan State Field Hockey Complex was a fitting place for the Terps to bounce back from their prolonged slump. They'd dropped three of their last four contests, including a double-overtime setback against then-No. 6 Michigan.
Maryland cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Spartans.
From the outset, coach Missy Meharg's squad looked less like the team that struggled to generate early offense and more like the aggressor that topped then-No. 9 Louisville in College Park last month.
The Terps started slow in many of their recent defeats, so Meharg didn't hesitate to express her frustration in the first minute Friday as the Terps and Spartans battled for possession near midfield.
At the 1:23 mark, Meharg called a timeout, likely attempting to avoid another sluggish opening period. Her players responded.
Meharg said earlier this week that midfielder Lein Holsboer has the ability to almost single-handedly control a game, though she doesn't design her offense to fit one player's strengths. Still, Holsboer was the first to respond to the coach's early challenge.
Just beyond the six-minute mark in the opening period, Holsboer forced a turnover and broke into open space on the left side of Maryland's zone. She deposited the ball into the lower-right corner of the net to give the Terps a one-goal advantage.
Maryland's ability to dominate possession — the Terps recorded 10 shots before the Spartans earned one attempt — facilitated the offense and helped the squad score again about 20 minutes after Holsboer's eighth goal this season.
Holsboer distributed to defender Kelee Lepage, who stood unguarded and just feet away from a one-on-one matchup with Spartans goalkeeper Mairi Fletcher. Lepage scored to double Maryland's lead, converting one of the easiest scoring opportunities the Terps have created in a month.
Maryland outshot Michigan State (6-7, 1-3 Big Ten), 13-2, in the opening period and scored twice in the opening frame for the first time since its Sept. 8 win against Towson.
The Terps responded to Meharg's urge to remain aggressive in the second period, too. Less than three minutes into the second half, midfielder Madison Maguire gave Maryland (7-5, 3-2 Big Ten) its third score.
Maguire's strike would prove to be valuable insurance, as Spartans midfielder Lauren Bonness scored Michigan State's first goal in the 47th minute.
But tight defense on Michigan State's attackers helped the Terps keep the Spartans scoreless for the game's final 20 minutes, ensuring the victory.
A last-second loss to the Wolverines last week left Holsboer wondering whether the Terps would be able to earn an NCAA tournament bid. But Maryland's win in East Lansing offered hope of a turnaround.