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Maryland field hockey had a special season in 2018, but met a familiar end

The Terrapins finished 22-3, but lost in the national championship again.

maryland field hockey Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

Maryland field hockey finds itself in the same position as a year ago, as the Terrapins fell in the 2018 national championship game, 2-0, to North Carolina over the weekend. The team’s record did increase from 16-7 last year to 22-3, but both seasons ultimately yielded the same result.

Here’s a look at the positives and negatives of 2018, plus a peek at what 2019 holds for the Terrapins.

Things that went well

This was a great season for Maryland despite the bittersweet ending. The team started with a 13-0 record, including nine wins over ranked teams in that stretch. At the start of the season, the Terrapins found themselves unstoppable in drawing and converting penalty corner chances. The team high of 10 corners was achieved four separate times, with three of those outputs coming in the first eight games.

On offense, the Terrapins averaged 3.24 goals per game on 15.8 shots per game. Maryland also showed their strength as a team passing the ball with 74 assists on the season, an increase from 50 in 2017.

Maryland’s defense also played its part, as goals against per game (1.32) and shots per game (8.0) were both down from 2017. Saves were down, but that is simply a testament to the quality defensive effort that Bodil Keus and company were able to put forward. Sarah Holliday, Noelle Frost and Sky Joegriner all saw time in net this season, combining for a .713 save percentage.

Things that didn’t go as well

The one major downfall for this Maryland team in 2018 was the fitness level as the year went on. With freshmen and transfer/international players getting significant time, their ability to play at 100 percent towards the end of the season diminished. All three of the Terrapins’ losses came during Sunday games when they had to play the Friday before. That number of three losses could have been larger, but the comeback win at Princeton and a defensive hold on the road against Iowa swung in Maryland’s favor.

In 2017, Maryland started off slow, but finished the year with a huge run into the postseason. This season resulted in the opposite, with the Terrapins just trying to hold on for victories towards the end (other than the first couple Big Ten tournament matches).

Who’s leaving

Maryland loses six seniors: Oliva Reiter, Linnea Gonzales, Julie Duncan, Melissa Wilken, Sabrina Rhodes, and Sarah Holliday.

The key loss on the offensive end is Gonzales. She was a team captain for the Terrapins, and started all 94 games during her four-year college career. Due to the strength of the Maryland attack, Gonzales was able to fall back and play a commanding midfield role as the season went on, but still finished with 14 goals and five assists on the year. With 33 points, Gonzales had her most productive seson as a Terp, as her previous high was 23 points.

Holliday finished the year with a 1.26 goals-against average, but the goaltender’s leadership is what will truly be missed by Maryland. Working with the coaching staff to prepare for set pieces by opponents and reading the other team were key assets for Maryland this season, and the Terrapins will need to continue their strong game planning to be successful on defense.

Duncan, Reiter, Rhodes and Wilken each gave valuable playing time to the team this season and throughout their careers. Rhodes was the most notable out of this bunch, as she saw 15 starts during the 2018 campaign and tallied 21 points on the year. The Terrapins also finished this season without sophomore defender Sophie Giezeman, who left the program to “pursue other endeavors.” She had started in 14 matches and played in 16 during 2018.

Who’s coming back

The bright spot for Maryland is that a number of key players do return for the 2019 season, and will have time to further acclimate to their surroundings.

Leading the charge will be Bibi Donraadt, who led Maryland with 36 points off 15 goals and six assists. She really started to find her form late in the season, but coaches think this is just a glimpse of what Donraadt can do. Missy Meharg mentioned her as one of the newer faces that weren’t used to the long NCAA field hockey season, and that this upcoming spring conditioning program will exponentially improve her performance in 2019 and beyond.

Maryland’s defense will be returning just about everyone. Bodil Keus, Hannah Bond and Kelee Lepage, who each played in all 25 matches, will return in 2019. Nike Lorenz’s return will also solidify the defense, as she will be a difference-maker in 2019. She had more of an offensive impact in 2018, scoring 14 times and leading the team with 63 shots, but was slowed down due to injury towards the end of the regular season.

Keus and Bond showed late in the season that their contributions are necessary for this team to thrive. Most notably, Bond’s overtime stop against Connecticut detailed this defense’s commitment to excellence and their ability to go above and beyond.

In goal, Noelle Frost, who played in nine games this season and started three, will take over for Sarah Holliday. She may not have the playing time and experience that Holliday entered this season with, but coming on and saving a penalty stroke in the national championship showed the skill that the Terrapins will have in net for 2019.