In her 29 seasons of coaching Maryland field hockey, head coach Missy Meharg has seen many, if not all, of the possible outcomes a season can bring. Thankfully, her experience and abilities have brought her enough success to be one of the most storied programs the university has to offer. Now she will be taking over 30 years of experience into a season that offers the same challenges: lost seniors, new talent and new challenges.
A very brief recap of last season
The Terps found most of their success in the regular season. They went 18-5 overall and only lost once in Big Ten play (7-1), with a high-powered offense that averaged 6.5 more shots per-game than their opponents and was the third-highest scoring team in the conference. Big Ten Player of the Year Welma Luus led the team in scoring with 14 goals, including five game-winners, and 32 points in total.
Maryland was not able to capitalize on that success, however, come tournament time. They fell to second-seeded Penn State 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament Finals and fourth-seeded North Carolina in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Plenty of roster and coaching changes
Five seniors were honored during last year’s team banquet, leaving five very big holes to fill. Among those who graduated were Luus and Grace Balsdon, who were the first and second-leading scorers for the Terps last season, respectively, and both earned All-Big Ten First Team honors. Balsdon was also named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. All five seniors collectively earned a record of 78-15, played in a Final Four, won an ACC title and won three Big Ten titles.
But, as the cliche goes, when one door closes, another one opens. Maryland welcomed five new freshman, including two that featured in MAX Field Hockey’s top-10 players for the Class of 2017: forward Mayve Clune and midfielder Brooke Deberdine. Clune is a member of the USA Under-19 national team and has been on the U.S. Indoor National Team for the past two years. Deberdine is a current member of the USA Under-21 national team and has been on the Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 teams for the last three years.
The Terps were also able to add junior forward Sabrina Rhodes to their lineup. Rhodes spent her first two seasons at the University of Delaware, where she helped the Blue Hens to the 2016 NCAA title and the 2015 and 2016 CAA titles.
There were also changes to coach Meharg’s coaching staff. Last year’s assistant coach, Joppe De Vries, was hired by Bryant University in Rhode Island to be the head coach of its field hockey program. Katie Bam, former Terrapin Olympian, was originally brought in to specifically fill his position next to assistant coach Stephanie Fee. However, it was announced earlier this month that Fee would be moved to Volunteer Assistant Coach and newly-hired Marvin Bam, former assistant coach at Harvard and Katie’s husband, would be moved in as an assistant coach.
As for this season...
There is little reason to believe that the team’s success will dip in this upcoming year, especially with Meharg entering her 30th season coaching the historically successful squad. The Terps came in 6th in the preseason NFHCA Coaches Poll, putting them right in the national mix again.
Just like last year, three members of Maryland’s field hockey team were named to the Big Ten Players to Watch list on Monday: seniors Carrie Hanks and Lein Holsboer and junior Linnea Gonzales. All three Terps won honors in either the NFHCA Mid-Atlantic Region or in the Big Ten.
Redshirt senior Marissa Cutry was named team captain for the 2017 season on Tuesday and looks to continue being a defensive leader for Maryland’s side. Meharg had high praise for her new captain.
“She represents everything that we stand for, and all of her leadership qualities on and off the field will help make our team better,” she said.
The Terps have looked sharp this preseason. They routed Temple in a 7-1 victory and drew with Delaware, the reigning national champions. While the aforementioned seniors and incoming freshman have shown their worth to the squad, new names have been showcasing their talents in these exhibition matches, like sophomore forward Madison Maguire. Last season, Maguire scored six goals and earned 12 points in 17 starts and 23 appearances.
The team looks for a strong start during their season opener on Sunday, Aug. 27 against Saint Joseph’s at Maryland’s Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex at 2:00 pm ET.