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Another talented Maryland field hockey team aims for a deep postseason run in 2019

State of the Program continues with a team that has been dominant for decades.

maryland field hockey Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

This summer, we’ll be going in-depth on every Maryland varsity program, taking a glimpse at where it’s been and where it’s going. Thomas kicked off the series started with football, Justin followed that up with a women’s soccer deep dive, and most recently, Sean looked at men’s soccer. I’ll be giving the breakdown on field hockey, a team that’s advanced to the national championship game in consecutive seasons and is arguably the most dominant fall sport in College Park.

Maryland field hockey

Established: 1974
All-time record: 718-223-36
Championships: 1993, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011
Last 5 years: 94-23, 35-5 Big Ten
The coach: Missy Meharg (entering 32nd season)
Fall 2018: 22-3 overall record, 7-1 Big Ten, Big Ten Champions, National Championship runner-up

Where it’s been

Under coach Missy Meharg’s tenure, Maryland field hockey has cemented its spot as one of the top programs in the country. The Terps have made the NCAA Tournament for 24 consecutive years, which is the longest active streak across the sport; have been ranked in the top 10 for 206 of 213 weeks since 1999; and have made 18 Final Four appearances under Meharg.

The program had immense success from 2005-11, winning five national championships during the seven-year span. Maryland made the semifinals in 2012 and 2013, but couldn’t make the title game either season. The Terps went a few years without going far in the NCAA Tournament, but made it back to the national championship game in 2017 and 2018.

Though Maryland was defeated by No. 1 North Carolina 2-0 in the championship last season, it had an impressive year. The team’s only other two losses were to No. 7 Penn State and No. 23 Virginia, and both were two-goal games. The Terps beat 16 ranked teams in 2018, including five in the top-five, but losing their second straight title game definitely stung.

Where it’s going

Maryland has had a strong past two seasons, and that should continue this year. Everyone on the team will be hungry to get back to the Final Four for another chance at the championship, which will drive the team throughout the regular season, as it did in 2018.

With an experienced coach like Meharg and most of the starting lineup returning, this year’s team should have a legitimate shot at the title. North Carolina loses most of its best players and UConn is without two of its stars, which should give Maryland an edge if they meet again in the postseason.

Names to know

Before going through the key players for the team this upcoming season, let’s take a look at who the program will be without. The team loses four members of its starting lineup going into next season. One of the most notable is NFHCA National Player of the Year Linnea Gonzales, who was second on the team with 33 points (14 goals, 5 assists) and was a big leader for the squad. German native Nike Lorenz was a new addition to the team last year, and though she had injuries that kept her off the field for some of the season, she put up 14 goals and was a solid defender. Starting goalkeeper Sarah Holliday graduated as well.

Even with those pieces out of the picture, Maryland returns lots of talent, including the five players who played the most minutes last season — Bodil Keus, Riley Donnelly, Brooke DeBerdine, Hannah Bond and Kelee Lepage. Bibi Donraadt, Kyler Greenwalt and Madison Maguire, who were all part of the starting lineup, return as well.

Donraadt is likely to star after scoring on 73 percent of her shots on goal for a team-high 15 goals last season, while Keus will continue to anchor the defense after being named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a First Team All-American last year.

Meharg has developed a great system to continually develop players to seamlessly fill the holes left by graduations, and this season should see a similar transition. Lizzy Dessoye, Taylor Mason and Mayv Clune all developed as key rotation players in 2018 and are likely to play a bigger role this season. Coming off a redshirt freshman season, Clune — a former No. 1 overall recruit — only played 439 minutes, but still managed three goals and three assists, and she’ll only do better with more experience under her belt.

The mission

After making the national title game and coming short for two consecutive seasons, the mission is quite clear: seal the deal and win the program’s first national championship since 2011. Coming so close twice hurts, and the team is sure to have some extra fire coming into this season.

Meharg’s mindset is to always compete for a championship, and that won’t be changing in 2019.