Veronica Maring came into this field hockey season as one of the top returning forwards in Carroll County, and one of Westminster's prime scoring threats on offense.
Maring’s skill and talent attracted college coaches along the way, coaches that gave her suggestions on how her all-around game could best be utilized. Maring took the information and approached Owls coach Katie McDonald at the beginning of the high school season, her junior year.
“She came up to me after our first scrimmage and was like, ‘Um, Coach, if you’re able to can I start to play defense sometimes in games so I can get practice?’” McDonald recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what? Umm, maybe, because you’re one of my best forwards.’”
Taking Maring off the front line meant losing a player who scored 13 goals and tallied 32 points a season ago. McDonald didn’t want to discourage one of her players from doing what’s needed to improve, she said, but the thought of missing potential offense was ever present.
The decision became clear Oct. 10 at Dulaney, where the Owls found themselves down 2-0 at halftime. McDonald said she talked to her team’s leaders and laid out the new formation — Maring was moving to center midfield.
Westminster lost the game, but McDonald said Maring “dominated the entire second half.” The Owls didn’t lose again until the Class 3A West Region championship game.
Their offense flourished with Maring in the middle, and the Times Player of the Year became a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses.
“When that transition occurred, I definitely took a good two weeks to where I probably stopped taking it past the forward line and just went straight for the goalie, instead of looking for the passes that I should have been using,” Maring said. “But once I did get it down, I actually became more defensively minded. Something just clicked and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to back up and I'm going to take on this position.’ And it got to the point where I wasn’t even taking [the ball] up by myself and scoring, I was doing more, ‘Let me help my teammates and set them up for them to finish.’
“I just turned on a switch and I was like … ‘It comes down to the basics. I’ve played with these girls for a couple of years now, and I know what they’re going to do. I know their strong suits.’”
Maring finished the fall with seven goals and 16 assists for 30 points, good for fifth most in the county. She also turned into Westminster’s igniter for goal-hungry forwards Madi Macera and Haleigh Moore.
Macera led the county with 26 goals; Moore’s 64 points topped Carroll.
Maring got involved as well — she had two goals and an assist in a county win over Century, added an assist in Westminster’s 2-0 win over Liberty, and had four assists in a victory over Francis Scott Key. All the while, she learned the nuances of a new position for when the time came to switch.
McDonald saw her star forward working hard to adapt.
“She was so flexible throughout the entire season,” McDonald said. “I could put her anywhere and she was very receptive to it. When I moved her to center mid, to me she just stood out incredibly. She was able to distribute to anybody on the field. She has good communication. She has amazing game sense.”
Westminster went 13-4 this fall and won the county championship with Maring becoming a focal point.
“That was huge for us having her there,” McDonald said. “I definitely plan to keep her there. It stinks at times, because I’m like, ‘I wish I could just clone you and have two of you.’”
The Owls fell short of claiming their 27th regional crown, and Maring said her competitiveness and drive made the loss tough to take. It will likely motivate her and her teammates who will return next fall.
Another factor could be Maring’s desire to play Division I field hockey and major in the medical field, something she knows will be a challenge.