It was an incredible senior year for University of Maine field hockey player Sydney Meader. The Boothbay native made significant contributions to her team’s first America East Conference championship and the school’s first trip to the NCAA Division I tournament. But for Meader, all good things don’t have to end. After she graduates in May, the pre-med/biology major still has two years of collegiate eligibility left.
“I’m coming back for at least one more season,” Meader said. “I’m staying for another semester, and take a few classes, and work as a phlebotomist. I will play field hockey for at least one more season before I apply to medical school.”
In high school, Meader was Boothbay Region’s all-time leading scorer with 86 goals and most goals in a season with 24. She decided to attend UMaine for a chance to play field hockey at the highest collegiate level: Division I. “I love representing my home state and not many can say that especially at the D1 level,” she said.
Another reason Meader chose the state’s only Division I program is the coaching staff. “They are amazing. I loved playing for Coach Josie (Jossette Babineau) and her assistant Michelle Simpson has so much energy,” Meader said. She had already met several of her future teammates playing on field hockey club teams during her pre-collegiate career. “They all told me such great things about the program,” she said. Meader was one of nine Maine residents playing for the Black Bears last season.
So after a stellar high school career, which included being named twice to the All-State team and finalist for Miss Field Hockey, Meader arrived in Orono, and didn’t play for the team in her first season. As a freshman, Meader was redshirted. In 2019, she began her collegiate field hockey career, but struggled to find playing time on a team filled with more experienced college players.
In her sophomore year, she played eight games as a forward in the fall before the coronavirus forced the season temporarily postponed. The season resumed in the spring where Meader played in all 11 games and averaged 37 minutes per contest. In 2020, the season was cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
But college field hockey resumed in 2021, and it was the best field hockey season in the school’s history. Maine began the season 1-6. The Black Bears struggled against a rugged schedule featuring five Top 25 teams.
Last season, Meader started 16 of 22 games. Maine lost in overtime to No. 10 Boston College, No. 11 Harvard, No. 21 UMass and No. 24 Kent State. UMaine also lost to No. 4 Northwestern, who eventually won the national title, before beating No. 22 Monmouth, 5-3.
In UMaine’s victory over Monmouth, Meader shined scoring two goals and one assist. “The first 10 games were particularly demanding, both physically and mentally. Losing in overtime in the first five against ranked teams showed we were a good team, but it was hard not having a win,” she said.
Meader scored all of her six career collegiate goals last season. But the two she scored versus Monmouth were the first scored in Orono. “Monmouth is new to the conference and a tough opponent,” she said. “It was even more exciting to score the goals at home because my family was there to see me score because the others were away. My coach said she was very proud which was nice to hear.”
Maine had the best record in America East posting a 7-1 mark. This led to the Black Bears hosting and winning the league tournament for the first time. Maine defeated Albany for the conference championship and secured an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, also a first for the Black Bears. “There is a tradition where all the school’s teams assemble on “The Hill” to watch games. And it was an electric atmosphere and very exciting hearing them cheer us on to victory,” Meader said.
The America East Champions turned their attention to NCAA tournament opponent University of Miami (Ohio). Maine lost to Miami, 3-2 and finished the season 15-7. At season’s end, Meader was named to the NFHCA All-Academic team for the second time (2019, 2021).
As far as next season goes, Meader and Maine will host national champion Northwestern University in the season opener at Orono. Meader is the daughter of Michelle Bouchard and Bernie Meader.