By: Greg Levinsky
BOSTON – Nearly 12,000 miles from their home in Perth, Australia, twin sisters Shannon and Chiara Ma are closer than ever as collegiate student-athletes. Just two years ago they were in bedrooms next to each other, and now they’re NCAA field hockey rivals. They matched up on Sunday as Shannon and 24th-ranked Boston University fell 2-1 to Chiara and fifth-ranked University of Connecticut.
The sophomore sisters met for the third time in their collegiate career on Sunday in Boston. Also, for the first time in Shannon Ma’s career, she walked to the postgame tailgate in the back corner of the bleacher area at New Balance Field to her family.
“We wouldn’t be here without them,” Shannon Ma said. “It’s a different experience going to a tailgate and going into seeing your parents.
It’s just nice knowing that’s my family and I get to spend time with them, which is really good.”
Half of the family wore UConn attire in support of Chiara Ma, the other portion donned Terrier gear. Their parents, Elaine and Paul flew in from Australia. One of their three older siblings, came with his wife and two daughters from Hawaii.
“It means the world, honestly,” Chiara Ma said. “I love my family so much and it means so much to me. They came so far.”
Their embrace after the game, though, capped a stellar day for the Ma family.
“For me that was a really emotional game,” Shannon Ma said. “I hadn’t seen Chiara for quite a while and it’s always a really good game against UConn so that was quite a lot of fun. For me, I know I got really frustrated and really emotional, but I love seeing her and playing against her.”
The sisters talk daily, helping each other through the challenges of college. They text every day.
“I know that I can get to you in two hours and it’s just nice that you’re in the same time zone,” Shannon Ma said to her sister. “You’re there and having a similar experience, like I’m not alone.”
Shannon Ma earned her third-straight start for the Terriers, and Chiara Ma played valuable minutes off the bench for the Huskies.
Chiara Ma and the defending national champion Huskies (13-3) have a 3-0 edge in their collegiate careers. The Terriers (9-5, 5-0 Patriot League) may see the Huskies down the line inn he NCAA Tournament like they did last year. If that’s the case, the Ma sisters would be ecstatic.
“I love it because I feel like we’ve been working for this for so long and our recruiting processes were really different,” Shannon Ma said. “I’m so happy to see her play, I’m so proud.”
Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky