A wide-open Bibi Donraadt came flying down the pitch with just about two minutes left in Maryland field hockey’s match at Penn State on Sunday. Off a strong feed from a well-defended Emma DeBerdine, the junior forward flipped the ball past the Nittany Lions’ goalkeeper Brie Barraco to give Maryland the go-ahead — and game-winning — goal.
The Terps left State College, Pennsylvania, with a much-needed 3-2 win. The team had already dropped a pair of 2-1 matches to Northwestern and were blanked by Penn State, 3-0, on Friday.
And now, Maryland is ranked No. 10 nationally in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s first top 20 poll of the spring.
Last season, the lowest the Terps ranked was No. 4, finishing with a 17-4 record.
With its 3-3 start to this spring season, Maryland’s lower ranking seemed inevitable. And it has a crowd of Big Ten teams around it.
Of the 20 teams selected, six come from the Big Ten. Though every match won’t count toward a team’s conference record, all of Maryland’s 14 regular-season matches are against Big Ten opponents.
Northwestern, which Maryland lost to twice this season, is the second-highest ranked Big Ten school, at No. 4. The Wildcats have jumped out to a 5-1 start this season, with their only loss coming in a shootout against Penn State.
The Nittany Lions — with whom Maryland just split a weekend series — are ranked No. 7. Despite their wins over No. 4 Northwestern and the No. 10 Terps, a pair of losses to No. 3 Iowa have them at 2-3 on the season.
The Terps will see the highest-ranked Big Ten team in Iowa City, Iowa, during the first weekend of April. Iowa is one of three Big Ten teams that have posted 5-1 records through the first three weeks, joining No. 4 Northwestern and No. 9 Rutgers — which Maryland will face twice in College Park to cap off the regular season.
Just behind the Terps at No. 11 is Michigan, which has only played three matches this season as a handful of its games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. The Wolverines come to College Park for a weekend set on April 10 and 11.
While the Terps’ initial ranking may be lower than some would’ve expected, coach Missy Meharg has said the team is just getting started.
“We’re just still coming into our own,” Meharg said. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything what this team can do from a collective offense.”