Just before halftime of Maryland field hockey’s 2-1 win over Iowa on Sunday, forward Taylor Mason felt as if time had stopped.
With two Hawkeyes closing down on Mason outside the Iowa circle, Mason had redirected the ball between the defenders and found midfielder Brooke DeBerdine streaking down the left sideline. DeBerdine slotted the ball home to give Maryland a lead, and give Mason the first point of her career.
The assist, which helped propel Maryland to a 2-1 win, marked a significant step forward for Mason. The seldom-used forward ran to celebrate with her teammates — but not before taking a second to realize what had just happened.
“I was just super excited,” Mason said. “It was a first for me.”
Prior to her season-high 29 minutes against Iowa, Mason had played in just five games and totaled 57 minutes.
Coach Missy Meharg said she was impressed with Mason’s tactical play during her five minutes of action against Indiana on Friday, so the 30th-year head coach decided to alter her rotation Sunday.
“Taylor’s just been getting better socially, tactically and technically,” Meharg said. “She has just taken the course. She’s a super open-minded young woman, so she’s really eager just to serve the team first and she’s been training very well.”
Mason is a prime example of the depth of this year’s squad, which has contributed to Maryland’s best start since 2013. Meharg said the Terps have much more depth this season than in past years, including last season’s NCAA tournament runner-up team.
So far this season, players coming off the bench have contributed 12 goals, 12 assists and 61 shots, on pace to eclipse the team’s 16 goals off the bench last year.
Midfielder Kyler Greenwalt and forward Bibi Donraadt both began the season starting on the bench, but have since emerged as starters. Forward Lizzy Dessoye, also off the bench Sunday, forced a turnover that led to Maryland’s first goal.
“Our younger players are just stepping up and becoming more confident with the ball,” midfielder Madison Maguire said. “Our depth is significant. We have such good players that come off the bench and I think that them getting minutes is awesome.”
And with her first assist as a Terp under her belt, Mason is looking forward to becoming a bigger piece for Maryland as the postseason nears.
“How well we’re doing, it’s the hard work we put in from the first day of preseason until now,” Mason said. “It’s nice to see all that hard work pay off. I think everyone’s just excited for what’s coming up next because we’re ready for it.”