The last time Maryland field hockey left College Park was for its season-opening road trip in California.
Wins over Pacific, California and UC Davis weren’t the only thing the Terps picked up on the West Coast. With six new faces this year, the trip allowed the squad to become more comfortable with each other.
Since then, Maryland has played four consecutive home games — all wins against ranked opponents. Now, the Terps are embarking for Michigan State, their first road trip since their California tour, and expect another chance for team bonding.
“We’re together more on away trips than when we’re home, so that definitely has an effect,” midfielder Kyler Greenwalt said. “It’s just really cool to go see all these places with your teammates because … we’re all just kind of best friends.”
When Maryland visited California and began its unbeaten run earlier this year, the Terps had the chance to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Lombard Street. They also attended team dinners during the week.
Coaches assigned seats for players on the plane, too. Greenwalt said that broke up usual pairings of players and allowed new relationships to form.
“It helps us to be in another environment for so long,” freshman forward Bibi Donraadt said. “It was good to [get to] know each other because we have, like, six new girls on the team, so it was like the perfect occasion to be a week with each other.”
Maryland’s trip to Michigan State won’t last as long as its three-match stand in California — the team plans to drive to East Lansing midday Friday and will start the return journey Saturday night after the contest. Still, the Terps are looking forward to more time together.
There’s more on the line with this trip — Maryland’s Big Ten opener — compared with the season-opening nonconference journey. The Terps (7-0) have toppled the Spartans (3-4) each of the nine times the squads have met previously.
To secure an eighth straight win, Greenwalt said Maryland has focused on leading off the ball and the far post during practices this week.
“We’re playing good hockey and when you’re undefeated at this kind of segment of the season, you’re focused on how you can get better at what you do and that’s where we are this week,” coach Missy Meharg said. “We’re kind of anxious to get out of campus and just focus in on the women and being able to play in the league.”