With six new freshmen, Maryland field hockey is working to alleviate the stress of transitioning to college by creating connections through the roster.
The incoming team members already have a lot in common. Four are from Maryland and many played on state club teams. Even the two out-of-state recruits, Maci Bradford and Josie Hollamon, have a built-in connection: They’re first cousins from Delaware.
“We didn’t really have fresh faces. It was girls who had been around and knew their way around campus,” associate head coach Scott Tupper said. “It’s been a really smooth transition I think for those girls into college. I think that’s shown on the pitch as well.”
The freshmen were invited on campus to take classes over the summer, giving them the opportunity to get to know each other. They frequented The Spot Mini, an off-campus restaurant, and spent many nights playing Uno.
“I got a feel of the college experience and the work we had to do,” Bradford said. “It wasn’t as stressful as I thought because all the older girls were just very welcoming to us.”
Maryland senior players also helped new recruits adapt to the team environment. The freshmen participate in a tradition called “Top Terps” where younger and older team members are paired up. The duos then create posters and write notes to each other, cultivating friendship.
It seems to have worked — Bradford ranks second on the team with two goals through the first five games of the season. She also leads the team with four assists and is second with eight points.
“The freshmen get to step in and play and have an impact overall on the team. I feel like that is really amazing,” Bradford said. “I never thought that it would be this quickly that we could all do that.”
Bradford’s early success seems to run in the family. Hollamon has played the most among freshmen with 237 minutes in five games. Coach Missy Meharg displayed her trust in the young player in the Terps’ latest win over Boston College.
In overtime, the coach placed Hollamon at the top of the shooting circle during the first penalty corner. Hollamon slammed a shot home for her first career goal and a Terps win. She has been strong defensively, starting as the center back for a Maryland team that’s given up just three scores this year.
Goalie Alyssa Klebasko rounds out the trio of newcomers with extensive roles. She made her first career start against Boston College, playing more than 61 scoreless minutes.
She competes with junior Paige Kieft in a goaltending tandem Meharg called “luxury.” So far, Klebasko has made seven saves without allowing a goal while Kieft has made 11 and given up three tallies.
The freshmen are now immersed in the team and playing some larger roles. They’ll continue to get chances to prove themselves for a program that aims for championships every season.
“We’re a family,” Bradford said. “We’re all here for the same reason. It’s just being connected, being together and never letting somebody fall back.”