LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Coach Missy Meharg struggled to recall when exactly the Maryland field hockey team's regular season double-overtime loss to Michigan took place.
All Meharg and her players could remember was the devastation they felt as they left Ocker Field that night. So when the Terps faced the Wolverines in the final four Friday, they used their Sept. 26 loss as motivation.
Despite entering as the underdog, Maryland dominated in its 5-1 win. The Terps will face No. 1-seed Connecticut in the national championship game on Sunday.
"We didn't have anything to lose," defender Bodil Keus said. "They may have underestimated us a little bit. We had a little bit of anger."
Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz said the Wolverines' confidence wavered after they struggled to break down Maryland's defense early on. When Maryland forward Linnea Gonzales' score pushed the Terps' lead to three late in the second half, Wolverines forward Carly Bennett knew it wasn't their day.
Maryland was in control from the outset, building a pair of three-goal leads and using a full-field press defense to secure a spot in the title contest.
In Maryland's first meeting with Michigan this year, the Terps trailed by two goals 20 minutes into the first half. That wasn't the case Friday, as Madison Maguire tucked the ball into the lower-right corner of the net just four minutes in, sending the team toward victory.
The Terps' attack remained aggressive, showing the kind of increased shooting confidence assistant Katie Bam has asked of the unit.
Keus pushed Maryland's edge to two in the 25th minute. Still, as the Terps entered halftime, they remained aware that Michigan's potent offense could respond quickly.
Maguire's second goal in the 37th minute enabled Maryland to maintain its momentum. The Terps' bench didn't stop jumping. Michigan's stood still in shock.
"We just had a mindset that we're going to win this game," Maguire said.
About four minutes after the Wolverines cut the deficit to two, forward Gonzales responded with a goal of her own. Goalkeeper Sarah Holliday stood on the opposite end of the field and slapped her stick against her kneepads in celebration.
The Wolverines had recorded 18 straight wins and hadn't allowed more than two goals this season. They entered averaging three scores per game.
And yet, in one night, the Terps ended that winning streak, reached five goals for the first time since Oct. 22 and held Michigan to a single score. They outshot the Wolverines, 9-5, and allowed just three penalty corner attempts.
As the Terps sprung their hands in the air and ran toward the Maryland fans in attendance in Louisville, Kentucky, the team felt differently than it did following its September loss to Michigan.
"We had a lesson handed to us that day," Meharg said.