Welcome back for another installment in Talking 10’s “Maryland Week” series. Although most of our articles for “Maryland Week” are focusing on football, this is our weekly chance to check in on all the other athletic success stories going on in the DMV area.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of 2015-16 and how that will project forward for Terrapins fans in 2016-17. There were some conference championships in College Park, so jump right in!
(Celebration was a typical sight this year, courtesy umterps.com)
The Maryland field hockey team dominated the competition in the Big Ten, continuing to own some of the lesser-known sports in the conference. The Terrapins put together a 19-4 record last fall, including a school-record five consecutive shutout victories in the middle of the season.
That record was good enough to win the regular season title going away, and then the gauntlet was set for the conference tournament: Michigan State, followed by Northwestern and then nationally-ranked (and runner up in the regular season) Michigan. Maryland rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Wolverines, cementing both Big Ten championships available this school year. Senior Welma Luus set a conference tournament record with 7 goals over the 3 games.
That led to a matchup with Princeton in the NCAA Tournament, a rematch of a win from earlier in the season. This was also the program’s 21st straight NCAA appearance, which leads the rest of the country. However, the Tigers got the best of the turtles, sending Maryland home before the rivalry with top-ranked Syracuse could be renewed in a Regional Final.
Four of the players earned All-American awards on the first or second team for this great season, including seniors Anna Dessoye, Sarah Spink, and Welma Luus. Freshman Linnea Gonzales also joined the All-American teams. She will be the anchor and leader of this team in 2016-17, as the Field Hockey program will need to reload all these stars from the conference title run.
Look for rising seniors Kasey Tapman and Emma Rissinger to also lead this squad next season. It will be difficult to maintain the high standards of 3 conference titles in 4 years, but do not expect Maryland to give up the championship crown easily in 2016.
(Coach Brenda Frese, photo courtesy umterps.com)
Perhaps the most dominant team Maryland brought to the Big Ten conference was this women’s basketball program. Brenda Frese has built a coaching staff of great mentors over her many years in this program, and a team full of star recruits that benefits greatly from the mentoring available from this staff.
The dominance led to a 30+ game conference winning streak (including 19-0 last year) upon entering the Big Ten. However, that streak did come to an end this year, as Maryland went “only” 17-2 with two losses to Ohio State. However, with the Buckeyes taking on 3 losses of their own during the regular season, the door was opened for Maryland to win an outright conference title again.
Following that achievement, the team once again swept through the Big Ten tournament with wins over Iowa, Northwestern, and Michigan State. All wins were by 15+ points, which was improved over 2015 when Ohio State played the Terrapins close in the championship game.
The Terps were set up with a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and took care of Iona in the first round. Then against 7-seed Washington, a rebuilding team with no seniors, Maryland had one of its poorest shooting days on the season and the run ended right there. It was a disappointing result in March, but a great season overall at 31-4 (the only other loss coming to eventual national champion UCONN).
Looking ahead to next season, Maryland will need to replace 4 seniors including Chloe Pavlech, who is now in the WNBA. Of course, bringing in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class nationally will fill any gaps quickly, which is just what Coach Frese and company did. Destiny Slocum, a point guard, and Jenna Stalti, a center, are the key pieces which should see significant playing time right away.
Thus, while there’s potential for a small drop off for the Terrapins, it is more likely than not that this team will once again be at the top of the chase for the Big Ten title, so long as Coach Frese keeps going as well as she has for the past decade.
Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse
(photo of the Men’s NCAA Final, courtesy umterps.com)
If there’s one sport which Maryland does better than most Big Ten schools, it is lacrosse. To be fair, many of the other schools prefer tennis or hockey, but to each their own.
Starting with the men, the Terrapins took a couple of early season lumps from fellow top-10 teams Yale and Notre Dame to fall to 1-2 overall. Then this squad put together an incredible 16-game winning streak heading into the NCAA Championship game. This included a clean 5-0 sweep of conference play to win the league title.
In the postseason, the Terps first knocked out Penn State and Rutgers to win the Big Ten tournament, and followed that up with wins over Quinnipiac, Syracuse, and Brown to reach the Championship. Old rival North Carolina was waiting there, with revenge on the mind following a loss to the Terrapins in the regular season. The game went to overtime, and Maryland fell just short of winning a national title.
Obviously a great season for the men at 17-3, but the women also played well in 2016. The ending would be eerily close to the men, however.
The Terrapin women entered the season top ranked in the country, and they lived up to all expectations in the regular season with a 17-0 record. In the Big Ten tournament, Rutgers and Northwestern proved no match to stop the Terrapins as well. In the NCAA Tournament, Maryland steamrolled through Johns Hopkins, UMASS, and Syracuse to set up a Championship game against North Carolina.
Just like the men, the women lost this battle for a national title to the Tar Heels, this time in a 13-7 shocking decision. Maryland came so close to bringing home huge national hardware in this sport to the conference, but it’s a great season at 22-1 nonetheless for the women.
The men will lose 12 seniors to graduation, including Scholar All-Americans Matt Dunn and Henry West, while the women will lose only 6 seniors to graduation. Thus, expect the women to definitely compete for a national title again, while the men will need to rebuild a bit next season to get back to that stage.
Be sure to continue to support and enjoy these other achievements that the student athletes are bringing home to Terrapin Nation now and in the near future.
Stay tuned as we move back out west to Wisconsin for our next in the ATC article series. Also, check out previous 2016 ATC articles already done (Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska). Have a great week!