The end of August smells of a new season of field hockey for Maryland head coach Missy Meharg and the Terps.
The 2021 season ended in heartbreaking fashion for Maryland as a Liberty goal with fewer than 90 seconds left in double overtime ended the Terps’ season in the Final Four. Maryland displayed resilience by charging back from an early 2-0 deficit to ultimately even the game late in the fourth quarter. Maryland’s loss halted a valiant effort to advance to the national championship. In 2021, the Terps showed glimpses of dominance and an ability to compete against the top teams in the country.
Maryland went 15-7 last season and finished sixth in the Big Ten with a 4-4 conference record. Fans returned to the stands in College Park for the first time since 2019 due to COVID-19, which led to Maryland posting a 9-3 record at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex. Five of those victories came against top-25 teams. The complex is in the process of an $11 million renovation that is projected to be completed by 2023.
Head coach Missy Meharg returns for her 35th season and is Maryland’s all-time leader in victories with 605 and counting. The nine-time National Coach of the Year recently received a contract extension, reciprocating the commitment she made to the only school she’s ever coached.
This season, the Terps are filled with experience and athleticism, making them a legitimate contender in the Big Ten. Maryland has the pieces to make a run, but the early-season slate will speak volumes to the direction of its season.
With the influx of talent joining an already talented roster, Maryland could position itself for a November trip to North Carolina for the 2023 Final Four.
Key players lost
The Terps will enter the season without some of the leadership that was an intricate part of their run last season.
Maryland lost goalkeeper Noelle Frost, along with All-Big Ten midfielder Brooke DeBerdine following their graduations last spring.
Midfielders Kyler Greenwalt and Julianna Tornetta will also not be returning after exhausting their five years of eligibility.
Big Ten Freshman of the Year Hope Rose returns as one of the most talented forwards in the country with a unique blend of agility and speed. Rose started in 21-of-22 games last season, while recording 10 goals in her first season for the Terps. She also chipped in four assists.
Bibi Donraadt, one of the best midfielders in the Big Ten, will return for her graduate season. Donraadt led Maryland in goals last season with 13.
Rayne Wright returns for her junior season after starting every game last season for Meharg and the Terps. Wright is an explosive athlete and was a key member of a Maryland offense that was 10th in the NCAA in goals per game a season ago.
Forward Margot Lawn will also be back in the black and red for her senior season after registering five goals, six assists and 27 shots last season. Lawn’s quickness and ability to attack the net makes Maryland a formidable unit in the Big Ten.
The Terps replenished their roster with a promising freshman class and incoming transfers capable of immediately contributing to a successful group.
Midfielder Leah Horowitz comes to College Park after earning All-State honors at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina. Horowitz is one of the top players in Max Field Hockey’s rankings for the class of 2021.
Reese Delp is a prospect who attended nearby Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md. She’s ranked as the 286th-best player in her class, according to Max Field Hockey. Delp earned All-County honors in 2019 and 2021. The forward/midfielder was selected to the Washington Post’s All-Met Second Team last year.
Freshman Lillian Buckwalter will bring her talents to College Park after being named a three-time Lancaster Lebanon League All-Star in four varsity seasons at Conestoga Valley. Buckwalter will look to add to a defense that makes timely rotations and forces turnovers to ignite their offense.
Juana Laskowski arrives at Maryland after a successful career in her home country of Argentina. Laskowski played for her native Club Nautico Hacoaj for much of her life and competed in the Disney Field Hockey Showcase in 2020.
Leah Crouse joins the program after playing her first four seasons for the Duke Blue Devils, where she recorded 18 goals and 16 assists. Cruise earned Second Team All-ACC honors in 2019 and played a prominent role in Duke’s 2018 Final Four run.
Midfielder Danielle Van Rootslear transferred to Maryland following a three-year run at Brown University, where she earned All-Ivy League honors. Van Rootselaar scored 12 goals and dished out five assists last season.
Maryland will play an 18-game schedule, with an early appearance in the annual Big Ten/ACC Cup at Boston College. For the second straight year, Maryland will face off with Boston College and Duke that weekend.
The Terps start their home slate with a matchup versus Drexel and a familiar member of its program. Drexel midfielder Taylor Mason played for Maryland from 2018-21 and will be making her way back to College Park for a matchup against her former club. In four seasons for the Terps, Mason accumulated eight goals, four assists and 53 shots in 67 games.
Meharg’s group has nine games in September against formidable opponents, including Iowa, Michigan, Princeton, Ohio State and others.
Perhaps Maryland’s toughest games on its schedule will be on Oct. 2 versus Northwestern and Oct. 26 versus Virginia. Northwestern is the reigning national champion and defeated the Terps last season, 3-1, on Sept. 30. Virginia played Maryland tough in its two meetings last season with the Terps, winning each contest in overtime.
Other conference opponents on the schedule include Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan State and Indiana. In addition to nonconference matchups with Boston College and Drexel, Maryland will compete against Harvard and New Hampshire.
After failing to qualify in 2020, the Terps returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and were a play away from an appearance in the national championship game. Maryland has reloaded its roster with talented newcomers, giving it a great chance to be competitive this season. If Maryland is firing on all cylinders as the year progresses, this group is capable of making another Final Four run.