The Maryland field hockey team’s Senior Day game ended with what has become a common occurrence for coach Missy Meharg’s program. The team clinched its third consecutive Big Ten regular-season championship, reaching the milestone each season the school has been a member of the conference.
But before the Terps donned commemorative T-shirts and hats and raised their trophy after a 4-2 win against Rutgers at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, the day started with surprises and commotion.
The first surprise came during warm-ups, when a ball struck one of defender Courtney Deena’s finger, breaking it and ruling her ineligible for the match.
Then, as the group of five seniors were preparing to take part in the pregame ceremonies, forward Welma Luus saw a face she wasn’t expecting. Her sister, who lives in their native South Africa, came to College Park without telling Luus.
“I had no idea — she came up to me right before we walked out,” Luus said. “She was hiding behind the parents, so I didn’t see her.”
The sisters embraced and soon walked out on the field together, along with Luus’ fiance. Before Luus was recognized, though, Deena endured another health scare.
As Deena was posing for pictures with her parents and coaching staff, she began to feel weak and fell toward her mother, who tried to keep her standing. But eventually, Deena, fell to the turf as the team called for head trainer Sandy Worth.
Some of the players requested the BTN2Go cameras not record the scene.
“Obviously we all wanted to make sure Courtney was okay,” said Rissinger, one of the seniors. “Luckily she is.”
Deena eventually stood and walked to the locker room before returning to the sideline during the game. She stood with her fellow seniors in the game’s waning moments as Meharg rotated reserve players onto the field with her team holding a late lead.
“The energy all over the field is amazing,” Rissinger said. “Whether you’re on the field or on the sideline, it’s just fun to be around everyone no matter where you are.”
After time expired and the Terps shook hands with the Scarlet Knights, they celebrated their fourth consecutive regular-season conference title, as they also earned one in their final ACC campaign.
“We all come to Maryland to win championships,” Rissinger said. “It feels good to know that’s what we do.”
But at a program like Maryland’s under a coach like Meharg, the Terps know Senior Day isn’t the climax of the season. The 29th-year coach admitted that after the game.
“To me,” Meharg said, “it’s about tournaments.”
Maryland is ranked third in the nation in the coaches’ poll and RPI and will host the Big Ten tournament this weekend. The team could be in a position to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament the following weekend, too.
“We have a lot more hockey to play this year. I’d like to think that we have seven games,” Meharg said, referencing potential runs to the finals of the conference and national tournaments.
So despite the twists throughout the Senior Day ceremony, the team anticipates it will have a chance to create more memories in the coming weeks.
“We have today to celebrate and have fun with our families,” Rissinger said. “But then it’s back to work this week, because we still have more championships to win.”