Fall field hockey will be returning to College Park on Friday afternoon for the first time since 2019. Fans and non-conference opponents will be back too, bringing back a sense of normalcy to the No. 9 ranked Maryland field hockey team.
Faced with a condensed spring schedule, the Terps endured a disappointing spring season where they finished sixth in the Big Ten with an 8-7 record, lost in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament and saw their streak of 24 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances end.
“We had some wins in the spring,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “We weren’t necessarily used to losing as many games as we did, so that was a bit different. But we were also shy a lot of players.”
This year however, the Terps return almost their entire team from last season and are hoping to bounce back with a refreshed roster that added four freshmen and including All-American forward Hope Rose.
Rose, Princeton transfer Julianna Tornetta and captain Brooke DeBerdine are all current members of the U.S. Women’s National Team and were all named to the Big Ten’s Players to Watch List. Tornetta scored 18 goals during her three year stint at Princeton and looks to be another scoring threat for the Terps.
Maryland will now open its season on Sunday at 2 p.m. against No. 20 Saint Joseph’s University. Its initial match against UMass Lowell was interrupted by a lengthy lightning and rain delay, just 12 minutes into the game that later resulted in cancellation of the season opener.
St. Joseph’s went 5-3 last season and are currently 1-0 after crushing Fairfield University 4-0 in their season opener on Friday. Hawks forward Anna Miller, the team’s leading scorer from last season scored a goal and took five shots with four on goal in Saint Joseph’s season opener. Additionally, the Hawks defense held Fairfield to only three shots in the entire game.
“Well what I expect [in the first game] is fast paced hockey,” Meharg said. “You’re going to see Brooke DeBerdine and Tornetta in the center creating so much more on and off ball speed.”
Meharg has revamped the Terps defense, adding a new center back tandem of midfielder/forward Taylor Mason and Maura Verleg. Sophomore Logan Anderson will also likely see the field for the first time in her college career after suffering a broken thumb last season, joining Rayne Wright, Belle Bressler and Nathalie Fiechter, who continue to improve.
This year’s Terp squad has also taken strides in team chemistry.
In one video posted on the Terps Field Hockey Instagram Story, fellow teammates can be seen cheering on Riley Donnelly, Emma DeBerdine and Rose who are all representing the U.S. at the Junior Pan American Cup. All three will miss the Terps opening weekend games.
“I think it was a really cool opportunity to watch some high level hockey and it makes me even more proud of all three of them to be able to represent the U.S.” Mason said.
Much like other touted Maryland Field Hockey teams of the past, excellent chemistry holds center stage as an integral piece to the success of the team. But when it comes to this year’s roster, midfielder and vice captain Kyler Greenwalt insists that this team is especially unique.
“It’s really important honestly because when you have that bond I feel like you play so much better together, Greenwalt said. “I do feel like this is the strongest bond that the team has had within my five years here. We have a very good team this year.