Over the last decade, women’s lacrosse has grown to over 100 Division I teams – the level of play, caliber of athletes, coaching staffs and competitive conferences – have pushed the sport to new heights with powerhouse teams such as JMU, Boston College, UNC, Northwestern, Stony Brook and many others making a run for the national title. But Maryland continues to break barriers and set a new standard of excellence in college sports with 14 National Championships.
The key to Maryland's success is a combination of great athletes, outstanding coaching, a history of winning, confidence in each other and support by the University of Maryland, alumnae and fans to create a powerhouse program.
With confidence in each other, the Terps execute under pressure and take risks at key moments in a game. Maryland does not rely on a superstar mentality - with the strongest roster in women's lacrosse - any player can step up to make a big play. The Terps run one of the most balanced attacks in the game - every midfielder and attacker is a threat to goal.
Depth is key to Maryland's success - the entire starting lineup deserves All-American honors. Maryland dominated 2019 Big Ten awards: Jen Giles (Midfielder of the Year), Megan Taylor (Goalie of the Year), Lizzie Colson (Defense), Erica Evans (Midfield), Kali Hartshorn (Attack), Shelby Mercer (Defense) and Caroline Steele (Attack).
In the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, Maryland met Stony Brook - a tough opponent who threatened Maryland in the 2017 NCAA Quarterfinals. Heading into the game, the Seawolves were injured and knew Maryland was the stronger team but came out firing. Stony Brook scored four goals in a torrential downpour during the first five minutes of the game - Maryland called a timeout.
The Terps stopped Stony Brook's run and chipped away at the lead. Midway through the first half, Maryland tied the game at 6-6 and never looked back. Stony Brook only scored two goals after the tied game, and the Terps went on to score eleven goals to win the game 17-8 and advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
In the rare instance when Maryland loses - the team knows how to reset, focus and comeback stronger. Maryland was undefeated in the 2019 season until they met Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game. Northwestern dominated the draw controls and out-shot Maryland in the rain to upset the Terps 16-11.
Maryland struggled offensively with shot selection and Northwestern's attack - led by Selena Lasota and Izzy Scane - penetrated Maryland's defense to score on Megan Taylor. But Maryland rebounded from the loss, and Coach Reese used the disappointment as an opportunity to re-evaluate and learn from the game.
The loss fueled Maryland's fire and the Terps set the record straight when they met Northwestern in the Final Four. A delayed, late night start in front of 8,500 cheering fans - both teams battled up and down the field in a high-powered, physical game. Northwestern held on until midway through the second half when Maryland blew the game wide open scoring nine goals to win the game 25-13.
Maryland's win over Northwestern in the Final Four marked one of the strongest performances in the history of women's lacrosse with 25 goals against a top ranked team. Maryland put the foot on the accelerator and never let up until the last whistle. The victory marked Cathy Reese's 300th career win as Head Coach, and Maryland advanced to the Championship Game against Boston College.
Assistant Coach, Lauri Kenis, is the mastermind behind Maryland's defense. The Terps play a disciplined, tough defense focused on body position. Stats against top teams show this disciplined defense with opponents sometimes doubling or tripling the number of fouls in a game. The Terps use body positioning to force an attack to their weak side, shut down key passing lanes - leaving an opponent with the weakest shot possible and the lowest angle for Megan Taylor to make a save in goal.
The Maryland defense doesn't just stop an opponent's attack - they are the catalyst for the Terps' attack. One turnover or save can shift the entire momentum of a game and set the attack in motion. With pressure all over the field, every Terp plays defense starting with the attack, Caroline Steele and Brindi Griffin - riding an opponent's defense.
Maryland's scouting report helped the Terps hold Boston College to four goals in the first half. But midway through the second half, Boston College went on a run - led by Kenzie Kent with five goals in the game. Coach Reese called a time out.
During the timeout, Coach Reese told her team - "Don't let the moment be bigger than you are - let's finish this." Utilizing the next play mentality - Maryland executed one play at a time, stayed in the moment, and didn't get caught up with the National Championship at the finish line.
For Boston College, however, the moment was bigger. Under Head Coach, Acacia Walker (Maryland 2005), this year was BC's third consecutive Championship Game appearance - a new record in women's lacrosse. BC was "laser focused" on winning a national title the entire season. The smaller, Catholic school never won an NCAA title in any sport - women's lacrosse was playing for the entire College. The Eagles played their hearts out - leaving everything on the field - but came up short against Maryland.
Senior Leadership & Fun
Senior leadership played a key role in Maryland's success - 2019 stood out from previous years - the team had fun. Led by an outstanding senior class: Julia Braig, Jen Giles, Shelby Mercer, Meghan Siverson, Caroline Steele and Megan Taylor - they loved playing together and had started since their Freshman year. Erica Evans, an All-American transfer, joined the seniors breaking into the starting lineup and adding a new dimension to the Terps' midfield/attack.
Maryland fans, alumnae and girls come in thousands to support the team. They wave Maryland flags, paint their face red and yellow, wear Maryland jerseys and prominently display hand-made signs. The stands are full of the next generation with girls from club teams and local communities supporting their favorite players and dreaming of one day being a Maryland Terrapin.