The last regular season home game of Rayne Wright’s Maryland field hockey career held a lot of weight for her.
The senior began her career during the pandemic,when students could not attend in-person classes and fans were prohibited from attending games.
Senior Day on Sunday brought everything Wright missed in previous years. She stared out at packed bleachers from the field, holding hands with her teammates as the co-captain of the then-No. 9 Maryland field hockey team.
Wright was one of eight seniors celebrated Sunday, before a game in which Maryland continued its seven-game winning streak with a victory over Indiana.
“Being one of the older kids is really weird because I’m the one who wants to laugh and joke around,” Wright said. “But there are so many people who are focused and strong and we’re able to grow every, every, day which is the most you can do.”
Wright enjoyed the fun the celebration brought but kept focus on the game. She knows these final matches of the season are pivotal for postseason rankings, she said. Wright played a crucial role in playing man-to-man defense and shutting down the offenses of the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers the past two contests.
When asked after Friday’s match how Maryland defense shut down Iowa midfielder Dionne van Aalsum — the second-ranked goal scorer in the NCAA — Terps associate head coach Scott Tupper had a quick answer.
“Rayne Wright,” he said.
As a defender, Wright’s role consists of moving the ball forward and making sure her attacker does not score. Those two jobs contribute significantly to the Terps game plan this season.
“She can handle anybody mentally and she’s taking care of the ball on attack,” coach Missy Meharg said. “We don’t need her to do anything else than do her job defensively, and then her ability to really pass the ball firmly to somebody’s right leg, right stick,”
Although it was Senior Day, Wright witnessed a glimpse of Maryland’s younger players, who hope to impact the program like Wright has.
“Every time, I say I hope the freshman class comes in better because that means the next two years are going to be even better than what I’ve been with,” Wright said.
Wright’s leadership is reciprocated by goalie Alyssa Klebasko, who stepped up physically on Sunday and whom Wright said she enjoys playing on the backline with. Freshman forward Maci Bradford scored the tie-breaking goal that put the Terps over Indiana.
After the match, alumni and family met Wright on the field, where she spent time with her friends and family and played with young kids, giving them her stick and teaching them how to pass.
“The legacy of Maryland is so important,” Wright said. “Having even the alums come from championship teams, it’s inspiring and just makes us want to work for that same result.”