Field hockey alumni Maria Keesling ’90 shines on Team USA

Bri Pomonis, Senior Writer

The years Maria Keesling ’90 spent as a record-setting goalie for the Bison only anticipated her success as a national field hockey standout. Over 30 years of top-notch goaltending have earned her spots on two national teams and countless titles and accolades.

Keesling juggled a double major and a minor and playing both varsity field hockey and varsity softball at the University. Yet what would be a daunting load for most was for Keesling an exciting challenge — one she excelled in overcoming.

“It wasn’t easy balancing two sports with two majors. As long as I kept things in perspective and focused on each thing when needed, it helped keep me on track in everything. I think that was also my favorite part — the challenge of not doing it all, but doing as well as I could,” Keesling said.

Her time on the field hockey pitch was nothing short of bar-setting. Keesling set several school records that have yet to be broken. Her records for most saves in a season (395 in 1989) and season save percentage (.927 in 1989) are NCAA all-time records at fourth and eleventh place, respectively. She is one of 11 Bison to be named 1st Team Regional All-American, and earned East Coast All-Conference honors in 1988. But college field hockey was only the beginning of what was to come.

It wasn’t long after graduating that Keesling found herself gearing up for goal again. Since joining her first post-collegiate team in August of 1990, Keesling has risen from playing with club teams to becoming a member of the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Squad and Masters team for players over 35 years of age.

“It started with local leagues and eventually turned into opportunities to travel and play more competitively. I just kept working hard and pursuing whatever was next, which is how I finally landed on the U.S. Indoor Squad and now the USA Masters teams,” Keesling said.

Keesling has continued to add to her long list of awards and accolades during her time with the Indoor Squad. In 2013, during her second term on the team, she competed in the RohrMax Cup, her first international tournament. The following year, the team walked away with a bronze medal at the PanAm Indoor Cup after winning in a shootout, an experience Keesling describes as a “dream come true for goalies.” Keesling also represented the United States in the 2014 Rotterdam and 2016 Australia World Cups, and is in the process of training for next year’s World Cup in Barcelona.

Continuing to play after college rather than switching to full-time coaching has been time-consuming and challenging for the Bison alum, but Keesling said that it’s been worth it.

“The longer you play, the more you realize that you play for the love of the game, and there are opportunities to play at all levels. The more competitive you want to be, the more challenging it is. You have to find the time to stay fit, practice, play and potentially travel – all while remaining gainfully employed. The ultimate reward is the privilege of representing your country, and competing against the best players from around the world,” Keesling said.

It’s safe to say that Keesling’s career is far from over, but her love of the game will outlast any time on the field.

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