When she was in fifth grade, Meghan Daly had a conversation with her best friend.

Her friend, Anna Berger, who is still her best pal today, convinced Daly to join her at a field hockey camp.

Daly obliged even though she wasn't sure what she was getting into.

"I never heard anything about it," Daly said. "I remember saying, 'Yeah, why not.' I didn't know anything about field hockey."

Fortunately, Daly met Jen Haney, who led the camp. The two hit it off the moment they introduced themselves to each other.

"She gave me a stick when I first got there and I fell in love with it," Daly said. "It helped that coach Haney was so awesome and so much fun."

Haney, who was Hudson High School's head field hockey coach for a number of years, was an assistant coach with the team this past season.

Let's just say her pupil has come a long way ever since she gave the sport a try several years ago.

Daly, a senior, recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and field hockey careers at Kent State University.

The standout defender verbally committed to the Golden Flashes prior to her junior year.

"I looked at a lot of schools and went to a lot of camps," Daly said. "I met with a lot of coaches, but I didn't click with a lot of coaches."

She didn't click with her coaches until she visited Kent State, which is led by head coach Kathleen Wiler.

"I visited a bunch of schools in the midwest, but Kent State was my No. 1 choice," Daly said. "[Lady Explorers head coach] Laurie [Wilkins], Haney and Katie George, who coached us for a year, played for Kent. They have a certain style that is the same as Hudson. It kind of felt like home."

Daly, who plans to major in exercise science, led the Lady Explorers to a 14-3 record and a share of the Northeast Ohio Field Hockey League title.

Hudson lost to NEOFHL co-champion Shaker Heights 3-0 in the Gates Mills district title match.

Daly had 5 goals, 4 assists and 2 defensive saves and earned All-Ohio honors in 2017.

She also earned All-Ohio Academic recognition and was a first-team all-league performer.

Daly was voted the team's Most Valuable Player this fall.

"She's a great kid," Wilkins said. "She is a hard worker both in school and on the field. I think she will definitely succeed. Her work ethic will take her far in college."

Daly was a four-year player for the Lady Explorers. She spent her first two years as a midfielder and then switched to defense her last two seasons.

Daly didn't fully embrace moving to the backfield when she was first told about it.

"We lost a really good defensive line with the graduation of Finn Madden and Jordan Nenni," Daly said. "Honestly, I didn't like it much. I enjoyed attacking. I love it now."

Wilkins knew Daly would not have any trouble adjusting to her new position. Her versatility is one of many traits that make Daly such a talented player.

"Meghan has offensive and defensive skills," Wilkins said. "We needed to kind of rebuild our backfield and she's a girl who can see the field. She's kind of our utility player. You want someone who knows the game in the backfield."

The Golden Flashes finished 9-10 and reached the Mid-American Conference title match in 2017. Kent State reached the NCAA tournament the previous three years.

Daly isn't sure what lurks in her future. With that uncertainty in mind, the standout defender doesn't plan to rest on her laurels any time soon.

"I'm going to work," Daly said. "You never know what the competition will be like. It will be a big adjustment."

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