Late in the third quarter, No. 7 Maryland field hockey’s match against Cal was halted for a moment as the officials conducted a replay review. The Terps were shutting out the Golden Bears and had just drawn two straight penalty corners, and they could possibly earn a third.
And they did. But before the officials even left the press tent, smiles were all over the Maryland players’ faces as they were in a huddle with assistant coach Scott Tupper. “Stir Fry” by Migos was playing, and Margot Lawn and Sam Zywna were bumping their heads and dancing along on the sideline.
The Terps were happy. They’d go on to earn their third straight win and shutout, making it 14 straight quarters in which they haven’t let up a goal.
“There’s no question — they love the game,” coach Missy Meharg said.
Meharg’s players always exhibit a strong passion for the sport, along with a love for their fellow teammates. It’s not uncommon for the 34th-year skipper to walk out of her office and see players on the field practicing.
They’ll water the field themselves, then knock the ball around and work on their skills without anyone even telling them to do so.
But this year’s team has particularly shown an even greater passion for the game. It could have something to do with the COVID-19 pandemic upending their lives for the last 18 months, and they are finally returning to a sense of normalcy this fall.
No matter the reason, the Terps are having fun and the results are showing. With Sunday’s win over Cal, Maryland improved to 4-1 on the young season — with four of its five games against ranked non-conference opponents.
“And you love the fact that your teammates have gotten so much better and worked that hard,” Meharg said.
The Terps have already picked up goals from 10 different players this season. After UMass held it to just one score on Friday, Maryland exploded with a four-goal output on Sunday — three of which came in the second half.
“We were really excited for our performance,” Anna Castaldo, who notched her first goal of the season Sunday, said. “Scoring is a lot of fun.”
Once the clock hit triple zeros Sunday afternoon, the Terps celebrated. Not only did they score four goals and not let up any — the defense wouldn’t let the Golden Bears even come close.
Cal registered just three shots, two of which were on goal and were easily handled by sixth-year goalkeeper Noelle Frost. The Golden Bears only drew one penalty corner all match, while Maryland had 13. And less than 48 hours after Maryland took half as many shots as it did across their first three games, the Terps topped it with 24 shots on Sunday.
As the players came off the pitch, they couldn’t do anything but smile.
“Everyone’s just really enjoying it,” Castaldo said. “We were all just saying how much fun we were having.”