With the conference tournaments already settled, it’s time for 18 NCAA field hockey teams to compete for the 2022 national championship.
Maryland field hockey will be the No. 3 overall seed in 2022 NCAA Tournament and will host Liberty on Nov. 11 in the first round. The Terps would host a second-round game on Nov. 13 against the winner of Princeton and Syracuse, should they advance.
The Terps (17-3) lost 2-1 to reigning national champion Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Maryland’s sluggish start proved to be costly, as it struggled mightily to capture the equalizer.
Maryland head coach Missy Meharg and the Terps clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship after a dominating regular season. They recorded two seven-game winning streaks and showcased an offensive attack that ranked second nationally (3.8 goals per game).
When one surveys the college landscape, it is hard to find a team with the depth of Maryland. The Terps have four players with at least 10 goals scored this season, led by Hope Rose with 14. The Terps are an explosive offensive group with equal the amount of talent on the defensive end as well.
Maryland’s defense is led by junior Rayne Wright, whose quickness adds a different dynamic to a cohesive group of athletes. Wright’s lateral agility and outstanding awareness allows her to consistently make plays to stifle offensive attacks. The Terps also have two quality goalkeepers in graduate Christina Calandra and sophomore Paige Kieft. Both combine for just 1.5 goals allowed per game and 50 saves. Their ability to put together a complete effort on defense will be something to monitor in the NCAA Tournament.
The Terps’ loss in the conference tournament left them surprised but determined to find a solution to their slow starts. Meharg hopes this game will fuel the team to get back to the fundamentals starting in the opening round.
“Define what you just felt when you left that field and what it was like. You play [your best field hockey] when you pass and when you put pressure on the ball,” Meharg said after the team’s loss. “There’s fundamental skills and two of them are really simple. When we play like that, we’re a great field hockey team.”
When a player has “Maryland” on the front of their jersey, competing for national titles is an expectation. The Terps have the roster, coaching staff and experience to make a deep run in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Their quest to bring home the program’s first national title since 2011 begins Friday.