At 7:03 a.m. on Sunday, Maryland field hockey coach Missy Meharg got a text from Emma DeBerdine.
DeBerdine was in Miami with Riley Donnelly and Hope Rose. They were flying back from Santiago, Chile, where they helped Team USA’s under-22 squad earn a bronze medal at the Junior Pan American Championships. They hoped to be back in Maryland on time for their game at 2 p.m.
“Just want to let you know, we slept before the plane even took off,” DeBerdine’s text to her coach read.
DeBerdine woke up from her sleep refreshed and ready to play. Early in the match, she delivered the first goal of the Terps’ season.
Just after knocking in a goal to give her team a 1-0 lead, she threw her right arm into the air and leaped into the arms of an ecstatic Kyler Greenwalt.
“It was really a great opportunity to play with the U.S. team, but being back with Maryland is my favorite thing,” DeBerdine said. “I was so excited … It’s just a great feeling.”
The players’ trip home wasn’t an easy one.
Their flight was delayed an hour — even their original flight would have been cutting it close to game time. They had to recruit someone to grab their bags at the airport so that they could leave immediately after landing. The trio arrived in College Park just one hour before Maryland’s first full match of the season began.
The rest of the team was thrilled to see their teammates again. While DeBerdine, Donnelly and Rose were competing in Chile, the Terps back home would gather in the team room and watch their games on TV.
Those Terps had to open their season on Friday without them, but that match was suspended after the first quarter due to a thunderstorm. As they prepared for their first full game of the season, they had their full squad together again.
“We could actually prepare from the start as a full team,” said Bibi Donraadt, who made a miraculous defensive play before turning in the game-winning goal in double overtime.
In Chile, Rose was named the tournament’s MVP and Donnelly scored the game-winning goal in a shootout victory over the host nation. The pair, along with DeBerdine, were part of a U.S. team that earned its first bronze medal at the Junior Pan American Championships since 2008 — collecting a bid to the 2021 FIH Junior Hockey World Cup in South Africa in December.
Meharg was thrilled with her players’ success on the international stage. She joked that reaching the bronze medal match would allow for a quicker return to Maryland.
“The only thing that I realized when they were going to be playing in the bronze medal match was that they’d have a four-hour more recovery time,” Meharg said, laughing.
The resilience of her players impressed Meharg. She’s coached plenty of national team players before and she has always been accommodating of their schedules. But DeBardine, Donnelly and Rose slept on the plane and were ready to go.
“They’re really cute,” Meharg said. “I trust them, and fortunately, they were healthy and were good to go.”