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No. 3 Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. No. 15 James Madison preview

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The Terps will look to find more consistency with another CAA opponent on the schedule.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
UMTerps

Rainy conditions made No. 3 Maryland women’s lacrosse’s latest match against Penn a more challenging endeavor. Although the Terps pulled out the 15-11 victory, several lull periods put the team’s undefeated season in jeopardy.

Despite some struggles, the balance of seasoned veterans and talented youngsters pushed the needle enough to bring Maryland’s win total to eight.

Next up on Maryland’s schedule is another CAA competitor. James Madison — the fourth ranked opponent on Maryland’s schedule — will visit College Park on Saturday. The Dukes will be looking to do what fellow conference members Delaware and William & Mary couldn’t — win.

Another threat to the Terps’ undefeated season kicks off Saturday at noon on Big Ten Plus.

No. 15 James Madison Dukes (5-4)

Head coach Shelley Klaes is in her 16th season at the helm at James Madison. The Dukes have been a steady presence atop the CAA since her taking over in 2007, including reaching the pinnacle of collegiate lacrosse in 2018 after amassing a 22-1 record. The team’s one loss that season came against Maryland in College Park. Klaes has not beaten the Terps during her tenure (0-12).

This season, James Madison has picked up wins over then-No. 23 UConn, High Point, Ohio State, then-No. 19 Richmond and then-No. 14 Virginia. The Dukes have won two in a row and will look to make it three with an upset over the Terps.

Players to know

Sophomore attacker Isabella Peterson (No. 17) — Draw controls and scoring goals, that’s Peterson’s M.O. with the Dukes, rising to the top of the CAA’s scoring leaderboard after ranking seventh in 2021. From nearby Sparks, Maryland, Peterson has 30 goals and 41 draw controls this season which rank fourth in the conference. In James Madison’s recent victory on the road versus Virginia, Peterson matched her career-high she set earlier in the season against UConn with six goals.

Senior goalkeeper Molly Dougherty (No. 33) — The lone Duke named to the Preseason Tewaaraton Watch List, Dougherty has had some blips on her season resume, most likely due to the team's strength of schedule. She ranks third in the CAA in both goals against average (10.52) and save percentage (.454). Dougherty may run into more trouble against one of the nation’s most potent offenses.

Junior defender Mairead Durkin (No. 14) — Durkin has taken a great leap for the Dukes this season as she leads the conference with an impressive 2.89 caused turnovers per game average. A Second Team All-CAA honoree in 2021, Durkin figures to be well on her way to receiving First Team nods, if not defensive player of the year awards. Against Richmond on March 16, Durkin caused a career-high five turnovers.

Strength

Defense. James Madison boasts a solid defense that has faced a healthy list of tough opponents. Maryland will mark the sixth ranked opponent on its schedule, but James Madison has boded well, allowing 10.22 goals per game. That mark ranks them 22nd in the country.

Weakness

Producing quality shots. James Madison, despite being a consistent member of the Inside Lacrosse poll, has struggled to produce quality looks at the cage this season. The Dukes rank second to last in their conference in shots per game (24.89) and last place in shots on goal per game (18.11). These numbers are especially troubling in this matchup considering the Terps rank in the top-five nationally in both statistics.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland stay level-headed throughout the match? Despite James Madison’s 5-4 record, the Dukes will be a tough test for the undefeated Terps. Its last outing exposed some weaknesses for Maryland, with the main component being the team’s struggles at maintaining its dominance across quarters. The second half saw moments of inconsistency, a point of emphasis to address for the Terps.

2. Will Hannah Leubecker catch Aurora Cordingley? It’s surprising to see that Cordingley hasn’t run away with the team’s goal scoring lead yet. The graduate transfer’s historic campaign with Maryland has overshadowed the tremendous junior season by Leubecker. Leubecker’s 27 goals are just five fewer than Cordingley’s 32 on the year. With Cordingley continuing to showcase her unselfishness on offense and Leubecker’s recent stretch of four straight hat tricks, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see a new leader atop Maryland’s goal scoring column as soon as this weekend.

3. Senior Day celebration for the Terps. Attackers Cordingley and Julia Hoffman, defenders Torie Barretta, Abby Bosco and Darby Welsh, goalkeeper Maddie McSally, and midfielders Sydney Bender and Grace Griffin will be honored on Saturday as a part of Senior Day. This class has been through a lot over their careers, from injuries to dealing with COVID-19 during the heights of their playing careers. The celebration should be an added boost to the team’s motivation with earning a victory on Saturday.