Coach Missy Meharg’s Maryland field hockey team has consistently competed at the top of the sport — landing a spot in the Final Four in each of the last two seasons.
But Meharg isn’t ready to predict whether 2023 will be the year the Terps break through to win their first NCAA title in 12 seasons. Her Maryland field hockey team has games to win first.
“When we get to that point we’ll readdress some of the things that we know will need to change, but right now it’s Stanford, Cal Berkeley and Davis,” Meharg said.
The Terps will have a completely new midfield, six freshmen and two new captains, but Meharg is confident in her squad’s dynamic.
The majority of the Terps’ leadership this year will come from their backline, with captains Rayne Wright and Maura Verleg leading the defense. Both players bring three years of experience in Maryland’s defense. The duo’s strong friendship on and off the field makes them a powerful pair, Meharg said.
“They’ve done a lot of winning. They know what it takes to win but they also, I’m sure, want to get back into position to win championships,” Meharg said.
The main reconstruction for the team will take place in the midfield, as the Terps lost three stars in Emma DeBerdine, Leah Crouse and Danielle van Rootselaar. DeBerdine and van Rootselaar were each NFHCA First Team All-Americans last season. Maya Everett and Maddie Vasilios will each have an opportunity to shine in their futures in Maryland’s reshaped midfield.
Returning fifth-years Margot Lawn, Ashlyn Carr and Sammy Popper will also look to mitigate the Terps’ losses.
“We have six really deep midfield players and all of them have the ability to play great attack and keep the layers connected and play very good defense,” Meharg said. “That’s a good unit for us.”
Through all of the team’s changes, junior Hope Rose has remained their most crucial asset.
A catalyst up front and the Terps’ top goalscorer last season, Rose will be key to Maryland’s success with her performances on the field and ability to mentor freshmen and sophomores along the forward line. After Maryland finishes its 2023 season, Rose will play in the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup for the United States’ under 21 team.
“She’s developed far more variety of shots. Her backhand shot has come on to more consistency. She’s doing the running in counter defense and counter attack and all in transition,” Meharg said. “She’s been [a] super mentor.”
The Terps took advantage of their brief two-week preseason with scrimmages against Syracuse and James Madison. Maryland has already departed for its first three games in California, kicking off its season against Stanford on Friday.
“You have to get used to being a little bit unsure as to exactly how you’re going to be but one thing I know, we’ve got depth in all units, got great goaltending, and we’ve got people who could score,” Meharg said.