Before taking on then No.4 Florida and No.3 North Carolina, head coach Cathy Reese knew she would learn about the identity of her team with consecutive top five matchups. The Terps won both games, defeating Florida 17-12 and North Carolina 13-12.
“Going into it I just want to be the best team that we can be this season,” Reese said. “We have to play the other best teams out there.”
Trailing 12-11 with 12:47 remaining against North Carolina after sophomore midfielder Ally Mastroianni’s free position goal, Reese learned just how much more Maryland has to offer. North Carolina’s lead was the first time the Terps had trailed since the opening minutes of its first game against George Mason.
“When we locked down from that 15 minute mark on through the end of the game when things were difficult for us and Carolina had all the momentum, I learned that we have a lot more in us to give,” Reese said. “For me, we need to find a way with my group to really bring that out and really try to keep that focus and consistency for the full time and not have these lapses.”
Down the stretch in regulation and overtime was some of the best lacrosse in all three phases the Terps have played this season, even as their backs were up against the wall. In those final 15 minutes, Maryland’s defense had some of its strongest sequences of the game. The Terps offense also continued to fight, tying up the score at 12 on junior attacker Kali Hartshorn’s backhand shot and continued to generate opportunities.
“I didn’t like where we were going 15 minutes into the second half and I loved how we rebounded,” Reese said postgame against UNC.
Learning about her team’s mental toughness when it matters most, Reese sees an opportunity to continue building on it the remainder of the season.
“What I’m learning here is we have got a different level that I need to tap into on the mental side,” Reese said. “Even when things aren’t going our way, we’ve gotta bring ourselves together. Keep your head up and keep fighting and we did that today.”
Building consistency has also been a key theme conveyed by the players, including senior defender Julia Braig.
“We’re definitely trying to get more consistent throughout the season,” Braig said. “Just sticking to the basics of what makes us such a great team and working hard at the little things.”
After consecutive games against unranked UMBC and Hofstra this week, Maryland will host another top five matchup on March 9 against No. 4 Syracuse. With each game, Reese and Maryland will look to continue to build consistency and find that different level before conference play begins.
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