Last year, Maryland field hockey lost the jewel of its recruiting class before she even got to College Park.

Forward Mayv Clune, the top player in the class of 2017 according to MAX Field Hockey, tore her PCL while playing for the U-19 national team in the spring, leaving her sidelined for the entirety of her freshman season.

The Quakertown, Pennsylvania, native said she used the year off to improve her game and ease the adjustment to Division I field hockey. While she hasn’t earned a start yet, Clune has played in each of the Terps’ first eight games this season, and she tallied her first goal Saturday against Michigan State.

“I learned a lot over the season not playing,” Clune said. “You see a lot tactically. … That’s one of the benefits of being able to redshirt, I was able to get a lot more from the game that I wouldn’t have if I just played.”

[Read more: No. 3 Maryland field hockey opens Big Ten play with easy 5-1 win over Michigan State]

One of the most important things Clune learned from the bench was movement. She intently watched interchanges between the forwards on the field, observing how they led off each other with strong connections and communication.

Clune wasn’t cleared to start running until December and couldn’t play field hockey until June. While she was sidelined, she fine-tuned areas of her game like stick skills and hitting, in addition to observing her teammates.

“We talk a lot with the women about controlling what they can control,” coach Missy Meharg said. “Mayv is just a student of the game, so it’s not surprising that last year she found a really optimistic way … to be involved.”

[Read more: With 6 newcomers, Maryland field hockey’s road trips help build team chemistry]

Clune’s persistence paid off in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Michigan State. Following a penalty corner, the redshirt freshman received the ball from defender Nike Lorenz just inside the shooting circle on the right side and flicked it into goal.

Clune, who already had three assists this season, said she’s tried to not worry about statistics in her comeback. Still, she was clearly excited about getting her first score in a Maryland uniform.

“For me, it just makes me happy,” Clune said. “Being with this team, being able to service the team in any way that I can, getting a goal, getting an assist, or even movement on the field, for me that just makes me happy that I’m actually out here and playing. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

While she says she’s content just getting minutes, Clune’s high school statistics — a program-record 141 career goals at Moravian Academy — and her recruiting pedigree suggest she can reach another level as a Terp.

“She’s now just getting used to her speed, her agility. Mayv Clune will always have the technical and tactical awareness in a small area that is world-class. She is a phenomenal player,” Meharg said. “She’s just getting used to her overall acceleration and deceleration of speed and I think she’s gaining ground every opportunity she gets to compete.”