Maryland field hockey forward Sabrina Rhodes arrived in College Park unsure of her role. She tallied four career goals as a midfielder with Delaware, last season's national champion.
But coach Missy Meharg has had Rhodes alternate between forward and defender, and in Sunday's 2-1 win against Saint Joseph's, Rhodes was tasked with contributing to Maryland's attack. In the 65th minute, the decision proved beneficial.
Midfielder Brooke Adler sent a pass toward Rhodes, who scored to give the Terps a lead they wouldn't relinquish in their first home opener since 2000.
"There's always opportunities," said Meharg, now in her 30th season leading Maryland field hockey. "I'm always believing we're going to win the game. I'm not surprised."
The No. 6 Terps, who started four freshmen, outshot the Hawks, 7-2, in the first half.
Meharg routinely turned to her bench, but Maryland struggled to generate opportunities, overrunning plays and missing targeted teammates with passes.
As a result, the No. 6 Terps entered the intermission in a scoreless tie.
Saint Joseph's forward Anna Willocks scored the game's first goal in the 41st minute. She converted on a penalty stroke to give the Hawks a one-goal lead they seemed poised to maintain.
"I don't think [we were frustrated]," defender Bodil Keus said.
Minutes into the second half, Meharg sent several attacking midfielders to the forward line, which helped spark Maryland's late offensive rally. Midfielder Lein Holsboer and Rhodes were both moved.
In a span of about 12 minutes, Keus received three penalty corner opportunities. She converted the third chance to tie the game at one.
The strategy remained effective when Adler connected with Rhodes for the go-ahead goal.
"We had a tremendous amount of attack up there," Meharg said. "We put all our powers up front. That's what you get."
Despite the initial woes, Meharg said she remained calm at the intermission and didn't pressure the Terps, who have now won 22 straight openers, to score immediately in the second half.
That resonated with Rhodes, who quickly established a role.
"One thing about Maryland and its history of excellence is you find a way to win," Meharg said. "What an amazing outcome."