Each time freshman Brooke DeBerdine enters the circle during the Maryland field hockey team's practice, the rest of the team screams, "Shoot!" As she dribbles the ball toward the Terps' offensive zone, the midfielder instinctively looks to pass. That's been her tendency since she was in high school.
But assistant coach Katie Bam has worked with DeBerdine on being more aggressive. Her speed has been valuable for Maryland's defense. Now, the coaches wants to see consistent production.
DeBerdine responded to the staff's challenge in the Terps' 3-0 win against Michigan State on Sunday, scoring her first career goal. As Maryland prepares for its matchup with Penn State in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, coach Missy Meharg anticipates the Millersville, Pennsylvania, native will contribute to the team's offensive output.
"We keep telling her, 'Take the shots.'" Meharg said. "She'll get more [goals] in the [Big Ten tournament]."
Because she found herself in an unusual situation, DeBerdine was surprised after scoring. By the time the game ended, she had forgotten the sequence that preceded it.
In the third minute, DeBerdine advanced the ball toward the circle and fired a shot that landed in the net. After the score, Michigan State called a timeout. The Terps celebrated on their way to the bench.
DeBerdine put her head down and smirked. The shot ended an 0-for-14 shooting skid through Maryland's first 17 games.
"Everyone else was more excited that she was," defender Carrie Hanks said. "She wants to just get the job done and not always take it herself. We always get excited in practice when she has these great goals."
Though DeBerdine often defaults to passing, she also has experience scoring. She recorded 54 goals and 63 assists during her time at Penn Manor High School. But her mindset at that time was different — she sought to connect with an attacker unless she found "the perfect shot."
During practices, Bam helps DeBerdine approach one-on-one situations. She sets up cones and advises DeBerdine to hit each one. Bam doesn't move the cone until DeBerdine does so.
The drill helped DeBerdine not hesitate against the Spartans.
"In a game, it's more staying calm," DeBerdine said, "and if you see it, just go."
Beyond midfielder Lein Holsboer, defender Bodil Keus and forward Linnea Gonzales, who have scored 11, nine and seven goals, respectively, Maryland's attack has been balanced. With a potential NCAA tournament bid looming, Bam and Meharg are hoping they can add DeBerdine into the mix.
"It'll be different," DeBerdine said, "but I like it."