Bibi Donraadt dribbled into the circle and sent a cross in front of goal in the 49th minute against North Carolina, hoping to find midfielder Madison Maguire and deliver Maryland field hockey its first goal of the national championship.
Donraadt had delivered for the Terps earlier in the tournament. Her overtime goal on Friday gave the team a spot in the title game against the Tar Heels.
But Maryland trailed 2-0 entering the second half, and the North Carolina defense was determined to hold its lead. Tar Heels goalkeeper Amanda Hendry dove as Donraadt’s pass skidded in, before defender Ashley Hoffman deflected it off Hendry. When Maguire got to the rebound, defender Morgan Goetz swatted the shot away.
North Carolina’s 2-0 win came on the strength of its defense, not allowing a shot in the first half and then protecting the two-goal lead against a deluge of shots in the second. The unit ensured Maryland’s second straight national championship appearance would also be a second straight runner-up finish.
“Hendry did a phenomenal job,” Maguire said. “We had a couple good shots against her, and she smacked them away.”
The Terps were unable to challenge Hendry before halftime, though. North Carolina owned the middle of the field, intercepting Maryland passes and turning that pressure into a pair of first-half goals.
The Terps turned things around in the second half, maintaining possession and using stout defense to limit the Tar Heels to three shots, but they couldn’t beat the Ashley Hoffman-led defense.
Hoffman is one of the few members of the U.S. senior national team who’s still in college, and she backed that up by dominating the NCAA during her four years. She’s a two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year and earned Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament this year.
“[Hoffman’s] probably the best defender in the country,” Hendry said. “She was a key player … and really helped our team to shut down their offensive press on us, which got a lot stronger in the second half.”
The Terps had nine shots in the second half — six of them on goal — and six penalty corners, but couldn’t convert any of them. Hendry saved every shot that came her way to hold Maryland scoreless for the first time since Sept. 1, 2017.
After the 2017 national championship loss to UConn, coming up just short again was painful, but the Terps took solace in their strong second-half performance.
“I don’t see struggles on the statsheet,” coach Missy Meharg said. “I see an outcome that I’m super disappointed [with]. … Just a disappointing time for Maryland.”