Maryland field hockey coach Missy Meharg remembers when left forward Meredith Long donned Maryland’s black and gold for a pair of seasons in the 2000s. In her second season at College Park in 2005, Long was part of a team that topped Duke in the NCAA championship game.
2005 was a successful season for Long, Meharg and the Terps. They posted a 24-2 record and collected the ACC championship before claiming their fourth national title.
And this weekend, Maryland’s 33rd-year coach will see her forward again. Now Meredith Civico, she has been the head coach of Rutgers field hockey since 2012.
“I’ve been watching her grow as a coach, and I’ve been able to be a big mentor and a part of her life,” Meharg said.
Civico led the Scarlet Knights to a successful season of their own this spring. Her squad is 9-3 — tied for second in the Big Ten — and checked in at No. 6 in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll.
“In past years, they’ve been a spoiler-type team,” Meharg said. “And now, they’re playing a quality and a brand of hockey that is right there with the traditional top-10 schools.”
Civico is an Ocean City, New Jersey, native and came to College Park in 2003 after beginning her collegiate career at Boston University. During her first season with the Terriers, she was named to the 2001 America East All-Rookie team.
She spent three seasons with Maryland from 2003-2005, but served a medical redshirt in 2004. In all three of those campaigns, the Terps reached the Final Four.
Meharg got to know her well. And she remembers her field hockey skills fondly.
“[Civico] never lost a 50/50 ball,” Meharg said. “I don’t ever recall her losing in any one-on-one battle. In anything that she did.”
Civico began her coaching career right after her graduation from Maryland. She headed north to Vermont, where she played a role in a variety of areas within the Catamounts’ program, from recruiting and scouting to player development, along with teaching several classes at the university.
She returned to the Old Line State in 2009 to serve as an assistant coach at Towson, where her duties included overseeing recruiting. A season later, she went back to the Garden State and joined the Scarlet Knights’ program as an assistant coach.
Since she was named Rutgers’ head coach in 2012, she and Meharg have become close colleagues — especially after the two East Coast schools moved to the Big Ten conference together in 2014.
“We connect as characters. We compete very similarly,” Meharg said. “We’ve become exceedingly good colleagues … we’ve always bonded.”
And as Meharg looks back at her playing career in College Park, it doesn’t surprise her that the Scarlet Knights have enjoyed so much success in 2021.
“Her intensity and her grittiness is playing out in her players,” Meharg said.
After the Terps’ and Scarlet Knights’ showdowns at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at noon, the 2021 Big Ten tournament in Iowa City next week looms. But that’s not what’s on people’s minds.
“Everyone on the team is focused on Rutgers,” goalkeeper Noelle Frost said.
And Meharg thinks her player-turned-Big Ten coach colleague feels the same way.
“I’m sure [Civico] would love to come in here and kick coach’s ass,” Meharg said.