The “Meghan” position was created in 2016 for Meghan Huey whenever Liberty wanted to use a fourth defender on the field hockey field.
Huey didn’t stand out as an imposing figure, but she had enough moxie as a freshman to catch the eye of Brenda Strohmer and contribute. The Lions’ coach envisioned Huey playing a bigger role in the future, as long as the ninth-grader was up for it.
“I knew she had it in her,” Strohmer said. “I saw glimpses of it last year, but this year she took it and ran with it. She just took control.”
“It” was Huey’s ability to adjust and handle more responsibility. This season, that meant guiding an uber-talented offense and steering Liberty toward another state championship. The Lions added their third state crown in four seasons, and fifth overall, while going undefeated. And Huey led the way.
The Times Player of the Year finished with 19 points from her midfield position, one she has assumed in full for the past three years. Huey’s stats might not be gaudy, but she’s involved in just about facet of the game.
She helped feed forwards Caroline Evans and Kayleigh Ward, who combined for 29 goals. And rising sophomore Caitlynn Szarko, who led Carroll with 11 assists.
Huey took the lead on Liberty’s penalty corners, and found her niche serving up crossing passes with accuracy. All the while playing with passion and intensity that at times belied her diminutive stature. When the Lions scored, which was often, Huey was emphatic in her celebrations with teammates.
“I am very small and short, and not the biggest player, and there are a lot of taller girls and stronger girls,” Huey said. “But I’m just as strong as them too, so it’s a way to assert myself and say, ‘Hey, don’t discredit just because of someone’s height or what they look like.’”
Liberty went away from the “Meghan” position, for the most part, two years ago. But Huey knew exactly what to do whenever Strohmer called for it — jump back and play defense to help protect a lead. The Lions’ offense was blossoming, however, and Huey wanted to become more involved. And when they graduated a few scoring threats, Huey took advantage of her chance.
She served as a team captain for three seasons and displayed the kind of leadership Liberty needed, Strohmer said.
“She really, ... commanded the field, commanded the team,” the coach said. “We’ve got a lot of good players, but ... she just shined in her leadership. On and off the field, when it was time to play hard she played hard, and everyone else played hard behind her.”
Liberty went 18-0 with impressive wins along the way. The Lions opened the season Sept. 7 with 1-0 tournament wins over Marriotts Ridge and Dulaney. The Mustangs went on to win the 2A state title; Dulaney lost in the 4A final.
They later knocked off county rival Westminster 2-0 in early October before the Owls regrouped and won the 3A state championship.
And they defeated private-school McDonogh 2-1 in double overtime Oct. 1. The Eagles wound up playing in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s A Conference tournament semifinals.
“We always try to set ourselves a high goal. That’s always [winning] states,” Huey said. “But we always try to have another goal and this year it was to go undefeated. We knew there was competition, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And we knew there would be some tough games. But being able to go undefeated was probably one of the biggest accomplishments of this team.”
Huey spent last year playing club field hockey for the first time, but opted out of it this year because she said she committed to attending church on Sundays and wouldn’t be able to play in weekend tournaments. Still, she stayed sharp by going through daily workout routines in her backyard or teaming up with Evans on off-days to hit the ball around.
The brief club experience helped her grow as a player, she said, and Huey isn’t ruling out giving field hockey a college try.
She’s considering Stevenson University for its nursing program, but Huey said she’s putting academics first. And if she gets another chance to play, don’t expect her style to change much.
“I’ve always been a little crazy,” Huey said. “I’m very competitive, and it’s all in good fun. It’s just what I love to do. That’s my way of just showing that I’m ready to be here and I’m ready to play.”