After Maryland knocked American out of the NCAA field hockey tournament last fall, three Infante sisters headed in two different directions. Paula -- a two-time all-American defensive midfielder for the Terps -- would move on to the national semifinals. American's Denise and Camila would not. So before they split up, the three sisters came together for a group hug that was at once congratulatory and sympathetic.
"Mixed feelings," said Paula, who was a finalist for the national player of the year award last season. "I was excited that we were in the final four. . . . I was a little bit upset because I knew my sisters were upset."
"We don't talk about who won," said Camila, who is tied for the team lead in goals and assists. "We know that for the other one, it's hard. None of us wants to lose the game."
The Infantes will stage another family reunion this afternoon at 3 p.m., when No. 3 Maryland (16-2) visits No. 5 American (15-0) in a nonconference game. The teams also met in the regular season last year; American won after dropping the first 26 games between the two schools.
That was hardly the first meeting between the sisters. Denise, 18, and Camila, 21, played for the same club team in their native Chile. Paula, 23, and eldest sister Daniela, 25, played for a rival club. Which is why Denise -- a defender and the most valuable player of last year's Patriot League tournament -- won't be shy about facing Paula, who leads the Terps with five winning goals.
"I'll have to tackle her and all that," Denise said. "I'm like, 'You're not going to go through me. You're going to be in front of me, not behind me.' "
Their parents, who live in Northern Virginia with Paula's 4-year-old son, attend the matches but don't root for either team. All four sisters have played for the Chilean national team, while Camila and Denise both played for Chile in this fall's Junior World Cup.
-- Dan Steinberg