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No. 4 Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. William & Mary preview

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The Terps hit the road in search of a 5-0 start.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Despite a short turnaround, the No. 4 Maryland women’s lacrosse team showed no signs of fatigue against Delaware. Led by another masterful performance from attacker Aurora Cordingley, the Terps coasted to a 15-2 victory.

“Aurora is one of the best players in the country,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “She fits really well as a transfer athlete into our offense.”

Maryland led 10-0 at the half thanks to four goals from the Johns Hopkins transfer. She scored her fifth of the game late in third, putting her season total at 18. Cordingley has also dished out a team-high nine assists.

As proficient the Terps were on the offensive end, they equally held up on the defensive end. Delaware was just 11-for-19 on clear attempts, leading to 20 turnovers, 13 of which were caused by Maryland.

The two goals allowed was Maryland’s best mark since March 16, 2019, against Ohio State.

With an average winning margin of 10.25, the Terps will hit the road to square off against another Colonial Athletic Association opponent in William & Mary.

Saturday’s matchup in Williamsburg, Virginia, will kick off at 1 p.m. and can be streamed on the Lax Sports Network.

William & Mary Tribe (2-2)

2021 record: 3-9 (0-4 CAA)

Head coach Colleen Dawson is in her third year with the Tribe, yet she has coached just 23 games. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dawson has not had the opportunity to make her impact in Williamsburg following a successful tenure as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s. Dawson is also a former player of Reese, playing from 2008-11. Despite limited exposure, Dawson has made her presence felt in the CAA early in her tenure. In 2021, her team led the CAA in ground balls per game and ranked second in caused turnovers.

Players to know

Senior attacker Belle Martire (No. 12) — The Baltimore, Maryland, native is the perennial star player for the Tribe, coming off of an All-CAA Second Team nod her junior season. Martire made national leaderboards, ranking fifth in the country in free positions goals per game (1.42). So far this season, Martire paces the conference in goals (15) — four more than Preseason Player of the Year Karson Harris, an attacker from James Madison, in as many games.

Junior midfielder Sarah Cipolla (No. 14) — Cipolla is the Robin to Martire’s Batman, supplying the Tribe with a formidable 1-2 punch. After missing two games following a zero-goal outing in the season opener versus Villanova, Cipolla reintroduced herself to the lineup. At the dispense of the Old Dominion Monarchs, Cipolla rattled off a game-high five goals. Added onto her three assists and seven draw controls in the team’s second win of the year, the junior earned conference player of the week honors.

Freshman midfielder Ainsley Huizenga (No. 27) — After fellow freshman, midfielder Serena Jacobs, locked up CAA Rookie of the Week honors for her performance against Villanova, Huizenga made it back-to-back nods for the squad. She earned her first career start against then-No. 8 Duke, tallying a goal, a ground ball and four draw controls in the loss. Huizenga bookended her award-winning week with another goal, marking two straight games with a start and a goal scored.

Strength

Work in the trenches. As previously mentioned, William & Mary thrives at doing the dirty work. They once again hold the conference lead in ground balls per game (19) — albeit with a small sample size. The Tribe also lead the CAA in draw controls per game (15) and tied for third in causing turnovers (8.5).

Weakness

Turnovers. As prominent as the Tribe are on the defensive end and with the opening draw, they severely struggle with controlling possessions. A staggering 21.75 turnovers per game mark puts them only ahead of Arizona State for worst in the country. That nauseating clip has kept goalkeeper Elise Palmer busy, with the freshman making 13 saves a game while facing 37.5 shots per game.

Three things to watch

1. Will Maryland stay complacent? While the Terps have been able to get off to fast starts in each of its four games this season, Reese hopes regardless of the situation that the Terps still manage to keep their foot on the gas.

“I thought we got a little complacent as the game went on,” Reese said after the Delaware game. “But for us to come out with our foot on the gas is important to us.”

Against another team picked to finish near the bottom of the CAA, Maryland may run into another running clock situation. But even with the potential of a moving clock, will the Terps continue to stay on the attack rather than fall back on its toes this time around?

2. Assists should continue to come in bunches. With the number two scoring offense in the country, it’s easy to overlook the vast assist numbers the Terps have accumulated thus far. Maryland averages seven a game, putting them in the top portion of the national leaderboard. One of the leaders of the offensive distribution has been attacker Eloise Clevenger. Placing second on the team with eight assists, the former top recruit has built on her pedigree across four starts this year.

“[My teammates] are always moving, always setting picks and I think that off-ball movement opens up a lot of shots,” Clevenger, who had four assists against Delaware, said.

3. What’s the ceiling for Maryland draw controls. Aside from the Virginia game, Maryland has held its opponents to single-digit draw controls. The combination of midfielder Shaylan Ahearn and transfer defender Abby Bosco has been a nightmare for nationally-ranked opponents and mid-major opponents alike. With a plus-43 margin, how will the Terps fare in Williamsburg against a team averaging the most in its conference?