The cousins kept close tabs and were eager with anticipation.

“I was so ready and then the game kept getting moved back and we were texting each other, ‘When is our game going to be now?’ '' Deb said.

“We kept asking each other, ‘Have you heard anything from your coaches yet?’ ” Meghan said.

That the game was so close to home was not lost on Deb’s dad.

“As a parent, you can’t ask for a better away game than UMBC,” Mike said. “No planes, no travel.”

As a parent of a freshman on one of the nation’s best teams, he doesn’t know what to expect as far as playing time.

“Every kid on that team is great,” he said. “There is nothing you can complain about. (Maryland coach) Cathy Reese is a great coach. She gets paid to win, so if you can go out and help her, you are going to play. There are no politics. It is strictly about winning. I’m OK with that, and Deborah understands that.”

“Age doesn’t matter,” Deb said. ‘We all want to win and they (coaches) want to win, so they are going to put in whoever is going to get us a win, which is what I like about it. They don’t say, 'she’s a freshman so she doesn’t get the ball.' It’s not like that at all.”

That was obvious at UMBC, when freshman Zoe Stukenberg started and shared high-scoring honors (four goals) with sophomore Taylor Cummings.

“It’s like a challenge every day, but I think that is a good thing,” Milani said. “I feel like I am getting better every day, but it was fun for the preseason to finally be over.”

***

Milani, who was the Catonsville Times Co-Athlete of the Year two years in a row, played her first college game a day after her close friend and 2013 Catonsville Times Co-Athlete of the Year, Maddie Hunt, played her first game for the University of Colorado.

Hunt, a defender, caused three turnovers and grabbed two ground balls in the Buffaloes’ 12-4 victory over Stetson University, in the school’s inaugural collegiate lacrosse game.