By Layne Litsinger and Carrie Hanks
After our first season on the Maryland Field Hockey team, we couldn’t be more excited for the years to come. It was the program’s first year in the Big Ten, which brought big changes. It was an interesting transition for everyone involved because the freshmen were adjusting to experiences and the way of Maryland Field Hockey, while the veterans and coaching staff of Maryland Field Hockey were adjusting to a whole new conference. Although the season didn’t end exactly how we wanted, there are plenty of positives that we can look back on with a good feeling and feel proud of.
First of all, our record was 19-4 and we remained ranked No. 2 in the country for a majority of the season. We became Big Ten regular season champions following a win against University of Iowa. This was the first Big Ten championship (of any kind) for University of Maryland Athletics. The Big Ten Tournament was at the University of Michigan; we got to fly back out to Ann Arbor for our chance at our first Big Ten Championship. We made it to the championship game, but fell to Northwestern in a tough battle on Michigan’s blue turf. We also made it to the Elite Eight (second round) in the NCAA tournament.
Our home opener saw us fall to North Carolina for our first loss of the year. Although it was a disappointment, it helped the team and the coaching staff identify what areas needed the most attention for improvement. We took the loss as incentive to grow and to work even harder.
Since it was our first year as a part of the Big Ten, everything ran differently than last year. We played new opponents, and visited many different states. We flew to all of our away games but one; these kind of trips are different than driving to games on a bus. Almost all of our games were played on Fridays and Sundays (along with a few Saturdays, and one Wednesday) to adjust for the travel. We usually flew on Thursdays to have a day to get adjusted to where we were going to play. Since we left College Park for the Baltimore Airport in the morning on Thursdays, we usually missed about two days of classes for each away trip. It was definitely difficult to balance missing class when traveling, but our teachers are very understanding of our busy schedule, and our coaches always made sure to set aside time while traveling and in the hotel to do homework and study.
One of our most memorable trips had to have been traveling to Michigan. We went there twice; once to play Michigan and Michigan State over a weekend, and the other time for the Big Ten Tournament. The first time we went there, our head coach, Missy, had us all pick our favorite spot at the University of Michigan’s Field Hockey field. She then told us that she would be hiding a small plastic turtle at the field to leave our mark, in hopes of returning to find it in that spot two months later for the Big Ten Tournament. The best part was when we did return for the Big Ten Tournament, Missy checked to see if the turtle was in the spot she left it in, and surprisingly, it was! It was definitely funny and special that the turtle had remained in the same location for so long. The best part is that the turtle remained in Michigan after we left, and hopefully the next time we play on their field, it will still be in the same spot as from earlier this season.
Throughout the laughs, the smiles, and the tears we both couldn’t be more happy to be a part of such a fantastic field hockey program. There were so many great things to look back on from preseason and traveling to the beach, taking cooking classes, Halloween practice, the Senior Game, and the countless games that helped us grow as a team, regardless if we won or lost. Even though it was only our first season as Terps, we couldn’t be more excited for what’s in store the next few years. Go Terps!