The Maryland field hockey team's Monday practice featured unusual competitions between drills, such as a handstand contest and a crossbar challenge that assessed which player could hit the crossbar the quickest with a shot.
The change of pace came because three days after its 3-2 double-overtime loss to No. 6 Michigan, Maryland ran practice without its coaching staff. Coach Missy Meharg and several assistants were on a recruiting trip, leaving the Terps to organize their own drills.
The team kept the mood light but remained focused, emphasizing attack and defensive penalty corners in a practice that extended beyond its typical time slot.
"Certain people are muscling up," senior midfielder Lein Holsboer said. "I don't know why that shift is now, but at least it's happening. Girls who are not as vocal are stepping up right now. That's really positive."
The No. 17 Terps don't play again until Friday, so Meharg decided to leave College Park and allow the players to begin preparing alone. The veteran coach deemed it "leadership training."
After the Terps fell with one second remaining in the game in Ann Arbor, Michigan, senior captain Marissa Cutry led a series of outcome-based games to improve play in close matches, underscoring the seriousness of the practice beyond the fun challenges.
Though Maryland's last-minute defeat frustrated Meharg, she's been more concerned with the squad's slow starts. A little more than a minute into the game, Michigan forward Carly Bennett scored to give the Wolverines an early advantage. About 19 minutes later, another score prompted the Terps to emphasize accountability Monday, as they worked on ensuring passes are on target.
Because the Wolverines' third goal gave the Terps their fifth loss, continuing an inconsistent season, players said the training session contained newfound intensity.
Meharg spoke with Cutry on Monday night to reflect on the practice and received several text messages about Maryland's progress Monday afternoon. It started with contests and became increasingly competitive as the Terps attempt to overcome what junior forward Melissa Wilken deemed an "absolutely heartbreaking" loss.
"There was light-hearted conversation and we would goof off between sessions," Wilken said. "When [the coaches] are not here, it's not like, 'Guys, let's do this normal practice.' We bring it for each other. It's cool to be a part of that. There are teams that don't train like that."