Midfielder Lein Holsboer sprinted off the field during the 95th minute of the Maryland field hockey team’s 3-2 double-overtime loss to Michigan last week. After starting the game and playing every minute until that point, she appeared exhausted as she approached the sideline.
But once she’d taken a few sips of water, the senior informed coach Missy Meharg she was ready to return.
Holsboer came to the U.S. from what she deemed the “little town” of Hilversum, Netherlands, and learned English from teammates and coaches. Since then, she’s become the engine of Maryland’s squad.
The No. 17 Terps need her skill set against Michigan State on Friday following three losses in their past four games.
“She’s grown as a woman and is a high-performance athlete,” Meharg said. “She’s one of the greatest players to ever play here.”
The Terps are used to Holsboer’s impressive physical feats.
Junior forward Melissa Wilken arrived in College Park confident in her foot speed, but Holsboer left Wilken speechless during a preseason running test.
“I’m like, ‘Damn, I am slow,'” Wilken said. “I was in awe.”
Holsboer started just five of 22 contests her freshman season. But her role expanded as a sophomore, as she started 22 of 23 matches. She’s been in the lineup every game since the beginning of last season.
At first, she wasn’t very outspoken. Her English skills were still developing, and she was unfamiliar with Meharg’s coaching style. This year, though, on a roster with only six seniors, Holsboer has become more vocal.
Her approachability is notable to Wilken, who said she is the first person on the sideline to initiate conversations about what the Terps can do better, an important trait on a struggling team. Her leadership encouraged Wilken to ask if the pair could review film from the Michigan game together.
Wilken wanted to know how she could better position herself to aid Holsboer on the field.
“She’s the first one to say, ‘Hey guys, together we need to be doing this better,'” Wilken said. “It’s nonstop. It’s a character trait of hers that’s unmatched on this team so far.”
Holsboer’s success comes after a shift in her role. Because Maryland’s forwards have struggled to score this season, Holsboer and fellow defender Bodil Keus have looked to shoot more often, combining for 11 goals. Maryland’s leading forward, Linnea Gonzales, has recorded four.
Holsboer was named a preseason Big Ten Player To Watch and has lived up to the hype with her team-leading seven scores.
While she has become Maryland’s most potent offensive threat 11 games into the season, she prefers connecting with teammates over finding the back of the net herself. Still, she’s willing to alter her game when needed, and the Terps’ attacking issues have often required her to go for goal this year.
“I guess when you need to step up when there needs to be a goal,” Holsboer said, “you have to finish it.”
Holsboer’s foresight during games is distinct, Wilken said, and her passes keep the attack organized. During video sessions, she doesn’t talk at other players but rather asks questions in a way that gets others involved in the conversation.
Meharg recently spoke with the team’s seniors about what they want their legacies to be at the end of the season. Holsboer remarked she wants to be remembered as a “very hardworking, very reliable and very honest” player.
Her performance while out of breath in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as she staved off exhaustion in double-overtime, suggests that’s how the program will see her after she graduates.
“This team works so hard for her,” Wilken said. “She is an incredible person and is so capable of carrying this team and she does that every single day. I aspire to be like that one day.”