After Maryland field hockey’s 4-3 win over No. 3 Duke on Sunday, goalkeeper Sarah Holliday walked over to her postgame press conference still holding the fake turtle coach Missy Meharg gives to the game’s MVP.
Holliday recorded 10 saves in the game. Just two days earlier, Meharg commended goaltender Noelle Frost for her six saves after the No. 4 Terps’ 3-2 victory over No. 13 Boston College.
Holliday, a senior, started all 23 games last season with Frost serving as backup, but the two goaltenders have been switching off contests so far this season. Both keepers have been integral parts of Maryland’s 5-0 start, the team’s best since 2013.
“Goaltending is an art and the biggest thing is that you have a unit that supports each other,” Meharg said. “Noelle works so hard. This is her third season here. She redshirted [her freshman year], last year she got minimal minutes, and this year she’s done so well and is able to open up a match. It seemed logical just to rotate them and give them both that opportunity that they deserve.”
Meharg said she will name a starting goalkeeper at some point this season to increase stability in her side. But as of now, who that will be remains uncertain.
Before Sunday’s matchup, Holliday received her first start in goal during Maryland’s 3-0 win over Pacific in the first game of the year and then played 52:47 in a 6-1 victory over UC Davis on Aug. 27. The senior shut out the Aggies while she was netminder, but was substituted to offer freshman Skye Joegriner some experience.
Frost, who only saw action in two games last season for a combined 30:34, has already doubled her playing time in 2018. She played the entirety of the Terps’ 5-0 win against California and started against Boston College to open Maryland’s Big Ten/ACC Cup.
Despite Holliday’s 15-6 record in the net last year with a .752 save percentage and 1.4 goals against average, she is embracing the competition with Frost, who is less experienced.
“Given my career in the past, it’s always motivating to play with other goalkeepers. I’ve always competed with other goalkeepers to be able to be playing my entire career,” Holliday said. “Different goalkeepers have different styles of talking, and they need to be able to know how to work under all types of pressure.”
That motivation showed against Duke, where Holliday consistently shut down attackers. At one point early in the first half, Holliday stepped out of the goalmouth to cut down the angle for a Blue Devil on a breakaway.
Meharg said Holliday’s saves allotted the Terps a buffer. The senior shot-stopper maintained Maryland’s lead throughout the contest.
But so far, the two goalies have remained largely even. Both have a save percentage of .800. When asked what she likes most about each goalie, Meharg focused on how they’ve handled the rotation.
“What I love about of them is their energy for and with each other,” Meharg said. “They’re looking forward to helping each other shine, and that’s a hard place to be when you’re defending 12 feet and you think you’re better than the other, and I’m pretty sure each one thinks they are. And that’s how it needs to be.”