Let me start with an apology to all the volleyball fans out there. The Terps officially announced their schedule on Tuesday while I was doing the research for the women's lacrosse NCAA Tournament preview. The volleyball season seemed so far away I let the announcement pass and garner just a link in Wednesday's MM. I probably should have written something because there's much to like about the challenges that Maryland's new head coach Steve Aird has set for his team to prepare them for life in the B1G.
When Maryland field hockey announced their schedule, I went all FHFAN and jumped all over it. As is the case with the volleyball schedule, there's much to like about the challenges Coach Missy Meharg has in store for her squad. Though the season technically opens at the Conference Cup in Lancaster, PA on the last weekend in August with games against Northeastern and 2013 NCAA quarterfinalist UMASS, the real fun begins with the Terps' home opener.
Mark your calendars now
At 4pm on Friday, September 5, the North Carolina Tar Heels are coming to College Park. For anyone who questions the importance or intensity of this rivalry, allow me to provide a brief rundown of the last five seasons. In that span the teams have met three times in the ACC Championship game and three times in the National Championship game. The Terps hold a 2-1 edge in both winning the ACC title in 2010 and 2013 with the Tar Heels winning theirs in 2012 and, after dropping a one goal decision to UNC in the 2009 National Championship game, the Terps took back to back overtime wins over UNC in 2010 and 2011.
Other non-conference foes
In addition to UMass and North Carolina, three other squads from the 2013 NCAA field are on Maryland's non-conference schedule. Crosstown rival American will make two trips to the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex but will only face the Terps on one of those visits. That game comes late in the season on October 29.
Another long time rival and traditional field hockey powerhouse, the Old Dominion Monarchs, will also make the trip to College Park. The Monarchs will come to town after the Terps have completed the first half of their initial B1G conference schedule. That contest is set for Sunday, the fifth of October.
Maryland travels to Princeton to face the 2012 National Champions. Princeton defeated the Terps in the 2012 national semifinal on a penalty stroke in overtime. The teams last meeting came in the 2013 NCAA quarterfinals where the Terps ended Princeton's hopes of repeating as champs when they handed the Tigers a 3-2 defeat in College Park.
In all, five of the Terrapins' ten non-conference foes qualified for the sixteen team 2013 NCAA Tournament. Miami (OH), Drexel, Temple, and Penn round out Maryland's non-conference opponents. Each of those games will be played in College Park.
The inaugural B1G season
Let's put it out there right up front. No matter how anyone tries to spin this, the B1G is not as powerful a field hockey conference as the ACC. They are also not the weak sister many want to paint them as being. The final 2013 NFHCA poll included four teams from the Big Ten in the top twenty. True, three of them were ranked seventeenth, nineteenth and twentieth but they were ranked nonetheless. So no hokey hockey here.
The Terps will take to the road for their first three conference contests travelling to Northwestern on September 20 and then to Michigan and Michigan State the following weekend before hosting Ohio State for their first B1G home conference game. Indiana is the fourth road team for the Terps as they compete in the NCAA's largest field hockey conference. Penn State, Rutgers, and Iowa round out Maryland's home slate. The Iowa game will be Maryland's senior day.
Big news about the Postseason
My conventional spelling of ‘big' in this section's header should make it apparent that Maryland is not hosting the B1G Tournament. That distinction falls to the University of Michigan and I'll bet the weather could be interesting in Ann Arbor on the first weekend in November.
The NCAA Tournament begins the following weekend. Because only sixteen teams qualify, the top four seeds host the first and second rounds. For Maryland and for Terrapins fans, the big new is that Maryland is also hosting the Final Four for the first time since the Terps 2010 National Championship.
So there you have it. No doubt, August 29 will be here sooner than I think.