Defending NCAA Champion Maryland Highlights Field Hockey Weekend

Linnea Whitney shows some stickwork during Monday's win against La Salle

Oct. 11, 2012

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The UC Davis women's field hockey team heads to the east coast for the second time this season, squaring off against Towson University on Friday before battling defending NCAA champion Maryland on Sunday.

Friday;s game against Towson, which will be played at Maryland, begins at noon (PDT) while Sunday's matchup is at 10 a.m.

The games are the final nonconference matchups of the regular season for UC Davis, which is 6-7 overall and 2-1 in the NorPac Conference. The Aggies have been off since facing Stanford last Friday.

Towson, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association is 0-13 on the season but has played seven games within two goals, including a 4-3 overtime loss against William & Mary on Sunday. Maryland, currently ranked No. 6 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I poll after opening the season at No. 1, owns a 9-3 record.

For UC Davis, the matchup against the Terrapins provides another opportunity to measure itself against an elite collegiate team. The Aggies have already faced nationally ranked teams in Northwestern, Drexel, Iowa and Stanford, and own a victory over Cal, which began the season in the top 25.

Towson and UC Davis share common opponents this season in Sacred Heart and Drexel. The Tigers lost 3-1 to both teams while the Aggies fell to Drexel, 6-0, and were edged by Sacred Heart, 2-1.

The Tigers are led in scoring by Courtney Branco and Heather Jenney who have each scored five goals, while Kasie Nurko has two. Towson, which has faced a difficult schedule this season, has been outscored 69-15 so far.

Maryland will take on UC Davis two days after it travels to face No. 3 Old Dominion on Friday. The Terrapins have faced NorPac members Cal, winning 2-1 on Aug. 24, and then edged Stanford, 3-2, in double-overtime on Aug. 26. They've rattled of five straight wins in midseason and have split their last two, including a 2-0 victory over No. 6 Duke last Saturday.

Maryland has outscored its opposition 45-17 with an offense that features three players with at least seven goals so far. Katie Gerzabek and Ali McEvoy each have seven while Jill Witmer has seven to go with a team-high eight assists.

The Terrapins have also taken more than double the shots of their opponents (212-105). Natalie Hunter has seen most of the action in the cage, posting an 8-3 record.

Maryland is coming off a magical 2011 season which saw it capture the national championship with a 19-4 record. The Terrapins beat No. 12 Iowa in their opening NCAA game and then posted wins over #3 Syracuse and No. 2 Old Dominion before upsetting top-ranked North Carolina, 3-2 in overtime, for the title.

UC Davis will return home following Sunday's game, hosting Stanford on Oct. 20 in another NorPac matchup.