Early last season, the then-No. 6 Maryland field hockey team traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for the Big Ten/ACC Cup.
By the time they returned, the Terps were under .500 and outside of the top-10 after a pair of losses to Duke and Boston College.
That trip remains in the No. 4 Terps’ minds about a year later as they welcome the No. 3 Blue Devils and No. 13 Eagles to College Park for another Big Ten/ACC Cup against their former conference foes. Once again, the tournament will be the first time Maryland is tested by ranked teams. This time, the Terps hope to fare better.
“We were definitely disappointed in our performance [last year] because we … really should be in competition with them,” midfielder Brooke DeBerdine said. “We definitely had a slow start and [we’re focused on] just not letting that happen this year and really using this weekend as a starter.”
Maryland began the year with three wins during a road trip to California. Yet none of their three opponents appeared in the preseason coaches poll.
DeBerdine said the Terps can’t get “big-headed” after the wins in California, and they know they will face more of a challenge this weekend.
“The reality is these are Final Four teams we’re playing this weekend. Both of them have the ability to get their team to the Final Four,” coach Missy Meharg said. “I’m not sure those that those teams that we played last weekend do. I wish them the best of luck, but we know for a fact that both BC and Duke are.”
Boston College has played one game this season, a 7-0 win at Quinnipiac, while Duke has had two victories over No. 22 William & Mary and No. 23 Liberty.
Last season, the Terps avenged their loss to the Blue Devils by beating them in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals, but Duke hasn’t lost a Big Ten/ACC Cup game in the past three years.
Maryland, meanwhile, has struggled mightily in the competition the past two years, going 1-3 in the games.
So while the players are eager to prove themselves after last year, there’s a bigger narrative on the mind of Meharg, who coached the Terps in the ACC for 27 years before their move to the Big Ten four years ago.
“If you want to talk about rivalry, let’s talk about field hockey and that is Big Ten versus ACC,” Meharg said. “And that’s why it’s fun to have these tournaments, because then at the end we can have statistics on win-losses between the two leagues.”