by Alex Flum
The grit and grind had paid off. After a hard fought battle with the then No. 1 ranked Connecticut, the University of Maryland Field Hockey came out on top with a 2-1 victory. The win was powered by two goal scorers: graduate students forward Welma Luus and defender Grace Balsdon.
It’s their first year together, but the duo has clicked immediately for the No. 3 Terrapins.
“Since the moment she came in, we were just good friends off the field,” Luus said. “And on the field we connect very well.”
If words aren’t enough, 25 goals back up the pair’s connection. Luus has netted 13 scores, while Balsdon has added 12.
Though Luus and Balsdon seem like a fixture in the lineup, it wouldn’t have been expected last year; Luus’ eligibility was a question, while Balsdon was playing 3,709 miles away in Canterbury, England.
After spending time with the tennis team as a freshman, Luus played both sports as a sophomore. She then played two more seasons with the field hockey team, devoting her time to that.
“[Luus] is a natural goal scorer,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “She, in my opinion, is the most creative, consistent goal scorer in the country.
In late May, Luus received a call from the university’s athletic department’s compliance office. They told her that she was granted another year of eligibility.
“Every athlete, once they’re done with their four years, kind of wishes they had another year,” Luus said.
With Luus back for another year, the team wanted to add more talent – insert Balsdon.
With an undergraduate degree under her belt, Balsdon was the captain of the Canterbury club hockey team. Balsdon was preparing for the Olympics with the Great Britain centralization field hockey program and looking for a graduate degree and an American school to fit that.
Hayley Turner and Susie Rowe, both former Terps, played with Balsdon at Canterbury and recommended Maryland as a destination. Balsdon was up for it.
“The foundations of this program here at Maryland has historically had really good success,” Balsdon said. “That’s been really nice to come into and see the girls want to maintain that, strive for that excellence and always be better than we are every day.”
This season, Balsdon has won three weekly honors, including Big Ten defensive player of the week in late October.
With Balsdon and Luus leading the way, the Terps are now looking toward the postseason.
“One’s at the goal line up front, one’s at the goal line in the back,” Meharg said. “They will play a critical role in terms of how we finish.”