Maryland Field Hockey didn’t play the standard it set for itself in the 2021 regular season.
The Terps finished 15-7 overall and 4-4 in the Big Tentheir most conference losses in a season since 1996 and one of the program’s lowest win ratios over the same span.
And yet the year culminated in coach Missy Meharg’s 19th NCAA semifinal, a testament to how running the gauntlet of a regular season can prepare a team for the postseason.
In 2022, the Terps face a similarly daunting road back to the playoffs.
Eleven of Maryland’s 18 opponents this fall were ranked in last season’s National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, including the entire top 4, according to a news release.
[After missing NCAA tournament last year, Maryland field hockey reached the Final Four]
“Planning the top teams each year inspires everyone, the players, families, fans and alumnae who love good hockey,” Meharg said in the press release.
TThe Terps open the fall with an exhibition against JMU on Aug. 18 before kicking off the regular season with Drexel at home on Aug. 26.
Other notable non-conference games include home games with Stanford in Game 2 of the regular season, Georgetown on October 11 and Virginia on October 26, a first-round rematch of the 2021 postseason when the Terps defeated the Cavaliers 2-1.
Along the way, Maryland makes an early midweek trip to Princeton on September 20 and has UConn on October 30 in the final game of the regular season.
Maryland meets Boston College and Duke in early September at the seventh annual Big Ten/ACC Cup in Newton, Massachusetts. The Terps clashed with both teams in last year’s Cup, losing to the Eagles and defeating the Blue Devils.
Meharg’s roster will then host Harvard, a 2021 Final Four team, along with New Hampshire at the Terrapin Invitational — the team’s first action since the Big Ten/ACC Cup the week before.
“The Big Ten has the highest conference power and adding Stanford, Boston College, Duke, Harvard, Princeton, UVA and UConn to that mix is pure top NCAA Division I field hockey,” Meharg said, per the publication.
The Big Ten portion of the schedule begins September 16 in Ohio State, followed by two home games against Michigan and Michigan State.
[Maryland field hockey falls short in overtime to Liberty in NCAA tournament semifinals, 3-2]
Perhaps the toughest track of the season hits the streets around mid-year. The Terps will face No. 2 overall Iowa in the final postseason, followed by Northwestern, the reigning national champion.
Maryland will wrap up the Big Ten game with home fights against Indiana and Rutgers before taking on Penn State on the road.
The Scarlet Knights and Nittany Lions finished 1st and 4th, respectively, in the most recent NFHCAA poll last season. Maryland went 1-3 in 2021 against the bottom four best teams. The lone win came against then No. 2 Michigan.
After a double overtime loss to Liberty in last year’s semifinals, Maryland is entering 2022 to win its first national championship since 2011. After winning five championships in a seven-year period from 2005 to 2011, the Terps are back in the championship game only twice in the last decade, losing both.