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No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse coasts to 20-6 victory over Saint Joseph’s in season opener

Attacker Aurora Cordingley led all scorers with five goals in her debut with the Terps.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Like clockwork, Maryland women’s lacrosse racked up draw control after draw control during the team’s massive second-quarter run.

In the midst of a 5-0 run, midfielder Eloise Clevenger, fresh off of her first assist of the game to attacker Libby May, found attacker Aurora Cordingley slashing to the net.

The feed from behind the cage was set up by midfielder Shannon Smith, who blinded a pair of Saint Joseph’s defenders to free up her fellow transfer. As the former Johns Hopkins Blue Jay collected Clevenger’s feed, she twisted her stick and flicked the ball behind her head.

The fluid movement from Cordingley gave her five goals in her first half of action with the Terps. By the time Maryland’s second-quarter run ended at seven straight, a commanding 11-2 lead all but assured an opening day victory for the national title contenders.

Cordingley led the way in her debut as the Terps trounced Saint Joseph’s, 20-6, in the season opener on the road.

“There’s seven threats when we’re on the field in the offensive end,” Cordingley said. “That’s something I’m not used to so just so fun to play with everyone and finally get my first game under the belt.”

The opening draw control was corralled by Penn transfer Abby Bosco, but the Terps couldn’t come up with a score on their opening possession as midfielder Shaylan Ahearn’s free position opportunity sailed over the cage.

Despite the errant first shot of the season, it didn’t take long for Maryland to assert its dominance on the offensive end.

Ahearn got her bearings back at the 12:02 mark, assisted by North Carolina transfer Smith. Attackers Cordingley and Hannah Leubecker then chimed in with two more goals before the 10-minute mark, putting the Hawks in an early 3-0 hole.

The offense slowed down a bit after a rampant start. Saint Joseph’s was able to cash in on two scores to cut its deficit in half, but those two goals were sandwiched between Cordingley’s second and third of the quarter.

The Johns Hopkins transfer looked as comfortable as ever in her new red look, delivering a first-quarter hat trick to put Maryland up 5-2 after 15 minutes of play.

Similar to its start in the first, Maryland racked up draw controls and got into the attacking third with urgency. Attackers Kate Sites and Victoria Hensh scored No. 6 and 7 for the Terps before Cordingley fired in her fourth goal of the afternoon.

The massive run continued for the Terps. Clevenger delivered back-to-back assists, including her very best Catie May impression as she found Libby May from behind the net to make it 9-2.

By halftime, the Terps had jumped out to a 12-3 lead. They held a 17-1 shot advantage in the second quarter and used a 7-0 run to blow the doors off of this one.

“We went through a phase there were we shot really well,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “I thought we did a nice job of moving the ball on offense, generating good looks.”

Saint Joe’s gained some traction to open the second half thanks to three free position chances. While goalkeeper Emily Sterling and the defense held solid, midfielder Emma O’Neill made it third time’s a charm to make it a 12-4 game.

As the Hawks desperately avoided a running clock situation, freshman midfielder Jordyn Lipkin scored her first career goal at the free position, pushing Maryland’s lead back to nine with 6:21 remaining in the third.

The pace was at a game-low through the middle portion of the third. But midfielder Grace Griffin was able to make it a 10-score lead before attacker Victoria Hensh padded the lead with a top-shelf screecher just under two minutes later.

Smith then found the back of the net with 11 seconds left in the quarter, scoring her first goal as a Terp thanks to Clevenger’s fourth assist of the day.

The drought for the Hawks continued into the fourth until attacker Sydney Foster sent a blistering wrist shot into the top right corner. The goal ended Maryland’s second 7-0 run of the game, but freshman attacker Hailey Russo quickly rehashed the defensive let-up, marking the 11th different scorer for the Terps.

Goalkeeper Maddie McSally allowed two garbage-time scores for the Hawks. But the defense by the Terps was the unsung hero in this one as they gave Saint Joe’s minimal opportunities to attempt to cut into its deficit.

Three things to know

1. Maryland’s offense was juiced up. Last season the Terps offense struggled to find some consistency. They fell back on their heels at times and failed to generate open looks late in the shot clock. But not today. Loaded with reinforcements, the Maryland offense played at a rapid pace. Precision passing and an overload of attackers allowed the Terps to overwhelm the Hawks defense. The team finished with 34 shots on goal and a plus-21 shot margin.

“We just have so much depth on this team, it’s so easy to play with everyone,” Cordingley said. “Everyone’s just so smart and we don’t care who scores, we just want to score.”

2. Variability is the best ability. 11 different players found the back of the net for Maryland today. Among those scorers was Kate Sites, who missed all of last year due to injury. She showed off her game-changing speed back in 2020 and looked like her normal self in the open field in Saturday’s road outing.

“She’s a great player and her speed is fun to watch,” Reese said. “She’s a real key piece to our offense and it’s going to be crucial to our overall success this year.”

Sites added, “I’m just so excited to be back out there. I was definitely a little nervous at first, but after the first few minutes I was totally comfortable. Just felt normal playing again.”

3. The transfers shined today. With Cordingley leading all scorers with five goals, it’s easy to lose sight of the outstanding debuts of her fellow transfers. Smith was all over the Hawks’ defense, stuffing the stat sheet, while Bosco was a menace on the draw circle and played a crucial role in stifling any momentum from the Hawks.