Last season No. 3 Maryland (2-0) suffered a heartbreaking 16-15 overtime loss against No. 2 North Carolina (3-0) on the road in Chapel Hill and will look to exact revenge on the Tar Heels Sunday at Maryland Stadium. The loss was Maryland’s first in its last 57 regular season games, and their last three meetings have been decided by a combined five goals.
“The Carolina Maryland game is always an exciting one, we’ve had close exciting games ever since I was a player and can remember,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “These teams are both talented, it’s definitely good competition every time we have the chance to play.
Last time out against No. 6 Florida, the Terps were strong on draw controls particularly junior attacker Kali Hartshorn who won 11, while Florida won just nine. As a result of her strong play against the Gators, Hartshorn was nominated as co-Big Ten Player of the Week. Draw control will once again be a point of emphasis Reese, facing off against such a talented North Carolina team. In addition to draw control, shooting efficiency will be a top priority for Maryland facing off against the high-octane Tar Heel offense.
“Draw controls will be really important, obviously if you get the draw control you have a chance to score if not you’re on defense,” Reese said. “Coming off of our last game we did a really good job around the draw circle, it’s up to our people in the circle to outhustle and out grit the other people with them.”
On the other end of the field, defense will be important for Maryland facing off against one of the top offenses in the country. The Tar Heels are averaging 17.33 goals per game and are led by the duo of sophomore attacker Jamie Ortega and junior attacker Katie Hoeg. Ortega has 15 goals through three games, while Hoeg has 14 assists consistently facilitating to her teammates.
“[North Carolina’s] offense is good, [Ortega] has a nice connection with Katie Hoeg,” Reese said. “Collectively as a whole their offense is difficult to stop because they’re all dangerous, the key for us is making sure that we’re not caught watching one player.”
Senior goalie Megan Taylor and the Terps defense will be responsible for limiting Carolina’s success on offense. Taylor has faced off against North Carolina several times, as well as several of Maryland’s starting defenders.
“I don’t think we’ve played the best Maryland defense we can, so it’s exciting to see from last game when we played so good how much better we can become,” Taylor said. “It’s going to be exciting for our defense to compete at that level again, it’s going to be fun.”
13 players on the current Maryland roster, played in last year’s matchup against North Carolina, however the players are not placing any extra magnitude on this game. However, both teams have a storied rivalry meeting for the 40th time Sunday, with Maryland leading the series 25-14.
“It’s just like every other game, we go out and play Maryland lacrosse every game no matter who it is,” Hartshorn said. “There’s just such a huge rivalry when it comes to UNC and Maryland and I guess it does light a little fire under us, but it’s just like any other game.”
The next chapter of the rivalry will be written beginning at 12:00 p.m on Sunday from Maryland Stadium, the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
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