Field Hockey National Champs Sign Talented Class for 2007

Feb. 22, 2007

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Six-time National Coach of the Year Missy Meharg has announced the signing of six student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The talented class, which boasts winners of several state titles, a couple of All-Americans, players with international playing experience and a U.S. National Team member, have committed to play for the University of Maryland beginning the fall semester of 2007.

"We are so pleased to add these six great student-athletes to our hockey program and the University of Maryland. They fit in perfectly with the tradition of excellence that has been built here," said Meharg. "These players have experienced being No. 1, winning several state titles and earning extensive experience playing internationally. We welcome the new Terps and are proud of this great group of student-athletes."

Meghan Dean hails from Marathon, N.Y., and attended the same school as former National Champions and Terp standouts Carla Tagliente `01 and Tiffany Marsh '06. A three-time All-American by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA), she was named to the first team twice. She brings extensive playing experience to the Terrapins after joining the U.S. Under-21 National Team in 2006. She helped the Americans to a first-place showing at the CanAm Challenge last year and has been selected to the U.S. tour of China in 2007. Dean was a member of the Maryland Elite Performance Training squad which won the USFHA National Tournament last summer and has been involved in many facets of the U.S. program, including the Futures and Olympic Development programs, to name a few.

"Meghan is a pure, naturally tough and gifted elite athlete. Maryland is fortunate to have Meghan joining the attack-midfield unit. Her selection to the U.S. U-21 team will give her the playing experience over the next six months to complement the present tempo and tactics of the Terps."

At Marathon H.S., she led the team to four-straight undefeated seasons and three sectional and regional titles. Playing on the forward line, she led the team in scoring as a junior and senior, combining for 57 goals over her last two seasons.

"Maryland has a history of Marathon H.S. athletes, but I chose Maryland because it fit my personality, both academically and athletically," said Dean of her choice. "The relationships between the players and coaches remind me of home and I am excited and honored to be joining the Maryland field hockey team."

Her parents, Bill and Janice, added, "The coaching staff is wonderful and we know our daughter will be in good hands at Maryland. Maryland is the entire picture and develops well-rounded individuals who will succeed in the `real world'. When she graduates, not only will she have one of the best educations, but she will have worked with the best coaches."

Graduating from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Md., Emily Ellenberger is coming off a successful senior campaign where the team went 16-2 and won the state title. She was named the Washington Post's Player of the Year, as well as earning the honor from the Gazette and the Washington Examiner.

"As the Washington Posts's Player of the Year it is so fitting Emily has chosen to play here at Maryland," said Meharg. "Emily is a very talented and versatile player who can contribute in all three lines of play. She is a natural leader and communicator"

Ellenberger is a four-year letterwinner at midfield, playing under head coach Jenna Siegel Ries, also helping the team win the AAAA Region title twice. She is a two-time all-state and all-county honoree. Ellenberger has been a member of the USFHA Futures Program for four years and has also traveled to tournaments in Belgium, Holland and England.

A two-time NFHCA All-American, Amanda Himmelheber has also elected to stay close to home for her collegiate career. In four four years at Severna Park High School, she led the team to four-straight state tournament finals, winning the crown three times. Also leading her team to four regional and county championships, Himmelheber was selected to the all-state team and all-county first teams twice, while garnering Player of the Year nods by the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Examiner and the Annapolis Capital. The Washington Post also selected her Anne Arundel Player of the Year and a two-time All-Metropolitan honoree.

"Amanda is a Maryland student-athlete, inside and out. A premier player in the state since her freshmen year, it is an honor to have Maryland's best stay at home and compete for the Terps. Amanda is technically and tactically advanced and possess hockey intelligence."

Himmelheber participated in the Futures National Tournament three times, earning a gold medal in 2004. She also won gold in 2005 at the Junior Olympics and led her squad to first place in pool play at the National Field Hockey Festival that year.

"Since the beginning of high school, Amanda has dreamed of attending and playing at Maryland. I encouraged her to explore other options, but Maryland remained number one in her heart. Upon meeting coach Meharg, I was sold, too," said Himmelheber's mother, Cheri.

Katie O'Donnell highlights the 2007 signing class. Hailing from Blue Bell, Pa., she was selected to play for the U.S. Senior National Team in 2005, becoming the youngest athlete to earn an international cap at the age of 16. In the fall of 2006, she led the U.S. Junior team to a best-ever seventh-place at the 2005 Junior World Cup, playing alongside former Terrapin great and national champion Lauren Powley.

"After making my official visit, Maryland just felt right," said O'Donnell. "I meshed well with the players and the coaches. I loved the campus and, for a big school, didn't feel lost. After also meeting with the academic support staff, they broke down for me what my next four years would be like academically. Every aspect of my visit was covered... how could I not attend a school that fulfills all this?"

O'Donnell attended Wissahickon High School, earning first team NFHCA All-American honors three times. Playing in the USFHA Futures program and the 2004 Junior Olympic games, she was named to the U.S. U-21 team.

"We are really excited to have a national team caliber player like Katie come into the program," said Meharg. "Already having experienced the tempo and quality of play at the international level, she will make an immediate impact on the attack unit. We are honored to have Katie as a Terp."

A midfield standout from Newark, Del., Mary Reilly earned four varsity letters at Archmere Academy, earning All-Catholic Conference honors in her final three seasons, leading her team to four-consecutive trips to the state tournament as a midfielder. She led Archmere to the 2003 league crown. Playing in the Under-19 USFHA Festival, her squad was declared pool champions in 2005 and 2006. Her experience with the U.S. field hockey program ranges from invitations to the Elite Team Trial Tryouts, Futures Elite, the National Futures Championship and the Olympic Development Select programs.

"I chose the University of Maryland because of the high expectation of excellence from the student-athletes, in both the classroom and on the field," said Reilly. "As a student, I will be provided with the opportunity to pursue a career in marketing, while also experience top-level collegiate coaching as an athlete."

"Mary is a dynamic and tenacious attacker who will challenge our backs and goalkeepers, immediately. She is exceedingly quick and agile, which will make her tough to mark. Mary is simply exciting to watch."

Melissa Vassalotti will be added to the Terps' goalkeeping core. A three-year starter at St. Basil Academy in Jenkintown, Pa., she recorded 659 saves as a senior, earning Southeast Pennsylvania all-area honors, while garnering Catholic Academies League All-Star first team honors for the second time. Participating in the USFHA's Futures program, she was undefeated in pool play at the Under-19 Festival and did not allow a goal in six games. At the 2006 National Indoor Tournament, she posted the lowest goals against average in pool play, leading her squad to first place. Vassalotti has extensive international experience, as well. She has traveled to play in U-19 tournaments in Australia and Argentina, helping the Mystx Elite earn second place in the 2005 Argentina Cup.

"Melissa is a serious and vibrant, well trained goalkeeper who will add competition to our already strong goalkeeping unit. She thrives on the challenge of playing top level, Division I hockey and being a Terp. We are excited to have her aboard"

"Everyone I met, from the administrators, to the coaches and players, treated me like family, which is why I chose Maryland," said Vassalotti. "I love the diversity among the students and athletes and can't wait to be a Terp spend my next few years at Maryland. It has everything I am looking for in a college."

The Terps are coming of their second-straight NCAA title run, winning the program's fifth national crown. Maryland defeated Wake Forest, 1-0, in Winston-Salem, N.C., to claim the trophy.