Big moments are usually saved for big players. Game time in a season’s most important moments is often reserved for upperclassmen, but Maryland field hockey’s freshman have played a prominent role in the Terps’ run to the Big Ten tournament final.
The conference tournament, hosted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last week, wasn’t the first time Josie Hollamon, Alyssa Klebasko or Maci Bradford had been in high-pressure situations. All three freshmen accumulated between 800 and 1,100 minutes throughout their inaugural collegiate campaigns in College Park.
“They get a ton of minutes and it’s very exciting. It’s exciting for right now,” coach Missy Meharg said. “It’s exciting because they’re going to taste the opportunity to play for a championship and they’re gonna be here a long time, so that makes me really happy.”
Maryland defeated Iowa, 2-0, in the first round of the tournament on Thursday and Rutgers, 2-1, in the semifinal on Friday. The Terps held off Northwestern in the title match until double overtime on Sunday, when the Wildcats scored the golden goal to claim the conference tournament championship.
The freshmen found a way to make an impact for their team in each competitive match. After Maryland received a penalty corner with six minutes remaining against Rutgers, Bradford notched the game-winning goal to send the Terps to the Big Ten title game. The score was Bradford’s 10th of the season, good for the second highest goal total on the team.
“Coming in playing in the Big Ten tournament is just amazing overall,” Bradford said on Friday. “To have this opportunity and to play great hockey, two great games of hockey, and make it to the championship is just amazing.”
Hollamon and Klebasko were recognized for their performances and selected as members of the 2023 Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
Hollamon, a decisive defender, is a member of Maryland’s defensive penalty corner unit. Hollamon and her teammates, including Klebasko, didn’t concede a single goal from 17 Northwestern penalty corners on Sunday.
“Josie Holloman is a true defender,” Meharg said. “She’s just phenomenal. She knows when to step up. She knows when to play under.”
Klebasko, the Terps’ last defender in net and a vocal leader on the Terps’ penalty corner unit, earned nine saves in the championship game and 15 across all three postseason matches. The goalie was also named the All-Big Ten second team earlier in the week for her performance during the regular season.
“Alyssa Klebasko and our whole corner of defense, to defend 16 penalty corners, is a real positive,” Meharg said. “She’s a strong goalie and she loves it.”
Hollamon, Klebasko and Bradford have spent their first season in College Park integrating themselves into Maryland’s team, on and off the field. The freshmen’s postseason performances have shown they deserve the starting spots they’ve earned, and Meharg hopes they can continue to be relied upon when the Terps begin NCAA tournament play this week against Old Dominion on Friday.