The 2021 spring season provided lots of uncertainty and discomfort to Maryland field hockey due to the protocols associated with conducting a season during a pandemic.
For the first time since 2019, fans are permitted to attend games at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park, Maryland. The fans returning to the stands should provide a sense of normalcy, as the Terrapins look to have a much-improved season in 2021.
The Terps are led by their legendary coach Missy Meharg, who’s looking to secure her eighth national championship in her 34th season. Meharg’s squad went 8-7 last season, with a 5-3 record in conference play. That record was good enough to finish sixth in the Big Ten standings.
Maryland will bring back predominantly their entire roster from last season but will be injecting some of the most promising freshmen in the country into their program.
With an influx of talent adding to an experienced team, the Terrapins look to capture its sixth Big Ten regular-season championship since joining the Big Ten in 2014.
Key players lost
The Terps are returning every player except for one.
Forward Anoushka Chiswell, from Christchurch, New Zealand, will not be returning to the Terps in 2021. Chiswell appeared in two games last season and recorded one shot.
Graduate student goalie Noelle Frost is arguably one of the best starting goalkeepers in the Big Ten as she returns for her sixth year with the Terps.
The talented goalie started all 15 games while registering four shut outs and a save percentage of 75.3. Frost’s valued experience and commitment to protecting the net are welcomed to this year’s team.
Two focal members are also returning for their graduate seasons, midfielders Brooke DeBerdine and Kyler Greenwalt are back with the program. The duo will play an intricate role on this year’s team.
DeBerdine was a first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, while Greenwalt should be primed for a huge season after starting in all 15 games during the abbreviated 2021 spring season.
Senior forward Bibi Donraadt looks to have another strong campaign after she earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last season. Donraadt ranked seventh in the Big Ten scoring 10 points for the season and averaging one point per game.
Senior forward Riley Donnelly returns to the Terps this season and she will bring an abundance of contributions to this year’s team. The Doylestown, Pennsylvania native was ranked sixth in the Big Ten in shots while averaging 2.40 per game. Donnelly was also ranked ninth in goals, with an average of .400 per game. She led the Terps scoring a total of six goals on the season.
Donraadt and Donnelly finished the spring season leading the team with a total of 15 points each.
Other key returning players include junior midfielder Belle Bressler, redshirt sophomore forward Mayv Clune, junior defender Maura Verleg, and senior midfielder/forward Taylor Mason.
Maryland brings in a talented freshman class with exorbitant potential and promise.
Midfielder Carly Hynd arrives in College Park as one of the most talented freshmen in the country. Hynd, a Paoli, Pennsylvania native is a Max Field Hockey Top 50 Player in the high school Class of 2021.
Forward Hope Rose joins the Terps after a decorated career at Central Dauphin High School in Dauphin, Pennsylvania. Rose is the sixth-ranked incoming freshman in the country. As a junior, Rose was named a High School National First Team All-American.
Midfielder Kylee Niswonger, a freshman from Dexter, Michigan brings her talents to Maryland following an impressive high school career. Niswonger played in the 2021 Young Men’s and Women’s National Championships on a team with other current Terps Donnelly and junior forward Margot Lawn.
Goalkeeper Paige Kieft, a freshman from Newton Square, Pennsylvania arrives on campus to bring a highly coveted position of need for the Terps. Kieft is a Max Field Hockey Top 50 Player.
The Terrapins play a 19-game schedule, that features an appearance in the Big Ten/ACC Cup that takes place in Durham, North Carolina on the campus of Duke University. The Terps will take on Boston College and Duke that weekend. Fans finally being allowed to attend games should provide a burst of energy and excitement to the players.
The biggest challenge to the Terrapins this season is their Big Ten counterparts. The Terps check-in at No. 9 in the NFHCA Division I National Coaches Poll however their schedule will prove to be challenging as every Big Ten team aside from Indiana is also ranked ahead of the start of the season.
Perhaps Maryland’s most challenging regular-season opponent will be the Michigan Wolverines who it faces on Oct. 24. The Wolverines currently stand at No. 2 in the NFHCA poll and advanced to the National Championship last season before ultimately losing to the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels.
Other conference opponents include Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern, Iowa, Rutgers, Michigan State and Ohio State. In addition to out-of-conference matchups against Boston College and Duke, the Terps will face UMass Lowell, Saint Joseph’s, UMass, American/Richmond, California, Princeton, American, Virginia, James Madison and UConn.
With all of Maryland’s returning players and Meharg’s veteran leadership, it would not be surprising if the Terps exceed expectations this season and eventually return to the NCAA Tournament after a year off.