Coming off a 2017 that ended with a national title game appearance, the Maryland field hockey team looks to build on its successes during the 2018 season.
Last fall, the Terrapins started slowly, starting just 6-5 and slipping in the rankings. But the team made a run in the NCAA tournament, defeating Wake Forest, Duke and Michigan to reach the national title game before top-ranked Connecticut scored on a late goal to win the championship game, 2-1.
Turning the page to 2018, Maryland finds itself in the top five in the preseason coaches’ poll. The Terrapins came in ranked No. 4 in the nation and received four first place votes. They finished last season ranked ninth, although that didn’t account for their postseason run. This year’s ranking means Maryland has entered the season in the top 10 every year since 1999.
The roster is deep, to say the least.
Maryland returns all but four members of the team that reached the national championship game, including senior goalkeeper Sarah Holliday, who was instrumental in Maryland’s run through the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
Senior forward Linnea Gonzales, junior defender Kelee Lepage and sophomore Brooke Deberdine were all named to the Big Ten players to watch list by league head coaches. This will be Gonzales’ fourth time making the list, while Deberdine and Lepage both earned their first preseason honors.
Gonzales will be the lead attacker returning for the Terrapins, as she finished 2017 with 10 goals and three assists. She also led the team with four game-winning goals. If she can raise her shooting percentage in 2018, Maryland could have a truly unstoppable attack.
In addition, Maryland returns nearly all of its top defensive players, including Bodil Keus, who lead the team in goals (13) last season. Keus also led Maryland in shots and was a perfect 2-for-2 on penalty shots, taking the only two Maryland had all season.
But winning won’t come easy.
The Terrapins’ schedule does not present an easy ride whatsoever, as they face off against 12 teams listed in the preseason top 25, including seven of the other teams in the top 10. Five of those 12 ranked matchups are within Big Ten play as well, so the team will be tested throughout the season. The non-conference schedule includes a rematch with defending national champion Connecticut on the road, as well as a tournament rematch with Duke in College Park.
A West Coast trip to start the season will be an early test. Despite playing unranked teams. Missy Meharg and her team will play three games in four days, facing off against Pacific, California, and UC Davis. Maryland has won their last 22 season opening games, and sport a 40-3-2 record in openers as a whole.
The Terrapins’ season opener is at 8:30 p.m. ET against Pacific in Stockton, California. The game can be streamed here. Pacific went 10-9 last season. This is the team’s first meeting since 2010, and Maryland is 4-0 in the all-time series.