Heading into the NCAA Tournament, Maryland has a veteran filled roster including a group of seniors who have appeared in two national championships and three final fours. The Terps have relied on their veteran leadership all season and will continue to do so entering the tournament.
After an undefeated regular season, No. 4 seed Northwestern handed the Terps their first loss of the season in the Big Ten Championship Game 16-11. While the loss for the Terps was frustrating, the week long rest presents an opportunity to reset for Sunday.
In addition to a very strong offense, the Sea Wolves have the third best scoring defense in the country giving up an average of 7.42 goals per game. Maryland also has one of the top scoring defenses in the nation, led by Big Ten Defender of the Year Julia Braig and goalie Megan Taylor, a Tewaaraton Award finalist.
After defeating defending champion James Madison 10-9 in overtime Friday, the Terps will host Stony Brook (16-4, 7-0 America East). Junior midfielder Allie Kennedy is the focal point of the Sea Wolves offense, with 84 goals on the season- one of the top scorers in the nation.
Suffering their first loss in nearly a year, the Terps will take this week to examine what they can do better. While it is uncharted territory for Maryland, Reese welcomes the opportunity to learn from the team’s mistakes moving forward.
“The leadership, the experience, [the seniors] have been there before, we’re following them, we’re leaning on them heavy right now,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “In order for us to be successful, we all need to be on the same page.”
Against the Wildcats, the Terps conceded the opening goal for the sixth consecutive game a trend they will look to reverse beginning in the first round. Despite giving up 16 goals against Northwestern, the Terps are focused on bringing up the energy level early on. While the Terps offense showed flashes of brilliance against the Wildcats at times, more consistent off-ball is a goal moving forward.
“To be totally honest with you, we were not very good all around [against Northwestern],” Reese said. “Sometimes if you win, you don’t look at things the same way, for us this has been pretty eye opening.”
“That’s our focus to make sure all seven of our players are confident, are working together and doing the little things,” Reese said.
“We weren’t really moving, if we were it wasn’t really at full speed,” senior attacker Caroline Steele said. “We’re going to focus on keeping our movement, keeping everyone engaged, keeping everyone moving and working for each other.”
“I always say that communication brings the energy up, I that’s going to be huge in keeping the intensity,” Giles said. “Also, going hard all over the field, leading by example and trying to really attack every chance I get.”
The last time Maryland faced off against Stony Brook was in the 2017 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals in a decisive 13-12 victory. The Terps do not have a lot of common opponents with the Seawolves, but are more focused on themselves and playing “Maryland Lacrosse” than the opponent.
Maryland’s senior offensive leader and Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Jen Giles struggled in the Big Ten Tournament finishing with just one point. However, expect Giles recently named a Tewaaraton Award Finalist to bounce back and her leadership will be relied on throughout the NCAA Tournament.
First draw is scheduled for noon at Maryland Stadium, where the Terps will look to begin a deep tournament run make their 13th consecutive quarter final appearance.
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