When Sabrina Rhodes went to Team USA tryouts this summer, the Maryland field hockey forward was eager for the chance to make the National Development Squad for the first time.

But once she made the cut, what really thrilled Rhodes was the chance to play alongside Terps forward Linnea Gonzales, who was already on the squad.

“[It’s] definitely really exciting to be playing with her again,” Gonzales said. “We’ve played for 12 years with one another and it’s great that we get to continue that relationship and keep growing together.”

[Read more: Linnea Gonzalez has emerged as a leader for Maryland field hockey this year]

Rhodes and Gonzales are two of five current Terps representing U.S. Field Hockey, an experience they say helps prepare them for the challenging schedule Maryland coach Missy Meharg prepares each year for one of the nation’s elite programs.

Kyler Greenwalt joined fellow sophomore Brooke DeBerdine on the U-21 team this summer, and freshman Riley Donnelly played for the U-19 team.

[Read more: Linnea Gonzales powers No. 3 Maryland field hockey over No. 8 Michigan, 2-1]

Gonzales already has 10 goals on the season, matching her number of scores from each of her first three years in College Park. Rhodes is also enjoying her best campaign as a Terp, tallying four goals and seven assists after getting off to a slow start last season.

“[Playing for Team USA] is really helpful because I never stop playing, I’m always on my game,” Rhodes said. “That really gave me confidence.”

Greenwalt has moved to midfield, after playing forward as a freshman, and has a goal and an assist apiece this year. Donnelly has emerged as the team’s only freshman starter.

Greenwalt said that her coaches helped her focus on keeping her hips open and knowing her outs to get out of tight situations in games over the summer.

Coach Missy Meharg said players sometimes drop off in skills when they go from solely focusing on hockey over the summer to beginning classes in the fall. But she and her staff, most of whom played or coached at the national level, make sure to help those players continue their growth.

“It’s two separate worlds playing international hockey and then playing collegiate hockey,” Meharg said. “We need to be very demanding with them. … We just try to keep their skills as sharp as we can.”

And for players like Rhodes and Gonzales, the summer not only improved their game but also allowed them to grow closer as teammates.

“It has an impact,” Rhodes said. “We are able to play together throughout the summer and just really get that connection, so when we come in for the season, it’s already there.”