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No. 2 Maryland women’s lacrosse dominates Saint Joseph’s, 15-5, in season opener

The Terps outshot the Hawks by 21.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Twitter @MarylandWLax

Saturday marked the commencement of the 50th year of Maryland women’s lacrosse, with the Terps taking on one of the best teams in the Atlantic 10, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. The buzz at College Park was visually palpable among the players, as they were geared up and ready to go.

It was only the first quarter when top-10 recruit Jaylen Rosga netted her first goal as a Terp. Thrust into the thick of the action, Rosga found herself playing heavy minutes on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. When Libby May, who had herself a quiet, yet impressive game, found a cutting Rosga inside the eight-meter arc, it was over for the Hawks’ goalkeeper. Rosga’s lightning-quick release proved to be simply too much to handle, and the freshman could barely contain her excitement as she dropped her stick to celebrate with teammates.

Ultimately, key plays from a variety of players were essential in the Terps’ season-opening 15-5 win over the St. Joseph’s Hawks.

Maryland jumped out to a scorching start, to say the least. Despite losing the opening draw, a quick save by All-American goalkeeper Emily Sterling and subsequent clearance put the Terps on their first attack.

Junior attacker Victoria Hensh capitalized first on a feed from Shannon Smith. Following a few more minutes of game action and turnovers from both teams, it was the Hawks who scored next to make it 1-1.

This seemed to flip a switch with Maryland, as they went on to score six unanswered for the rest of the quarter. Among those who contributed to the flurry of offense were Libby May, Hannah Leubecker, Chrissy Thomas and Jordyn Lipkin. Rosga also got in on the action, scoring her first collegiate goal.

The theme of the first quarter was calculated ball movement. Eloise Clevenger was the catalyst, nicely locating cutters from her position behind the net. Transfer defender Marge Donovan was injured shortly after a draw control, which sidelined her for the rest of the game. Head coach Cathy Reese said she didn’t have an update on the defender’s status, but stated after the game, “I think she was checked out at half, and things look good.”

As the second quarter arrived, the Terps and Hawks had more of a back-and-forth defensive battle. The Terps ended up scoring only two goals to the Hawks’ one. However, it was a great opportunity for the Terps to showcase their smothering defense, even without Marge Donovan.

“We’re going to keep getting better,” Reese said.

One specific standout was redshirt freshman Kennedy Major, who was a beast on ground balls all game and forced a number of turnovers. Her natural speed was also on display on a number of clears.

“What a fun player to watch. She’s all over the place,” Reese said of Major. “We were man-down a few times and she was able to come up with the ball.”

In this quarter, it was also the first time Maryland was able to play its three top-10 ranked freshmen at the same time. Kori Edmondson, Rosga and Maggie Weisman all had the chance to showcase their skills on offense. Edmondson notched her first collegiate point with an assist to Clevenger.

The half ended with the Terps up 9-2, tallying eight different goal-scorers.

When asked about the offense production and balance, Reese was more than content.

“Yep. Love it. I love all of it, and I love that over half our goals were assisted,” Reese said. “I love that we were moving the ball well and I love that we were finding different ways to score.”

In the third quarter the Terps came out hot, much like the first. The offense was relentless for the most part after a quick Saint Joseph’s goal cut the lead to six.

Maryland responded shortly after, as Rosga scored once more, continuing an impressive debut. Additionally, Emma Muchnick potted her first collegiate goal and Chrissy Thomas and Jordyn Lipkin both secured hat tricks. This was especially impressive for Thomas, who played in only five games as a sophomore last season.

When asked about scoring her first goal as a Terp, Thomas selflessly responded with, “It felt good, because we’ve worked really hard all season and we’re putting all the pieces together ... it’s just fun to be out there.”

As the fourth quarter rolled around, the Hawks were clearly tired and Maryland went to its bench with a convincing lead. Maryland lost the quarter by a score of 2-1. Maddie Yoder was the Hawks’ best player as she finished with a game-high four goals.

Still, the Terps played an all-around strong game from start to finish, and the final score, a 15-5 win, was mostly to be expected. Reese improved on her stellar home record, and the Terps will next enter a four-game road stretch, beginning on Friday, Feb. 17 at No. 5 Syracuse.

Three things to know

1. Maryland’s swarming defense. Physical defense was the name of the game Saturday. Aside from a few blunders, Maryland pressured the ball with aplomb. Despite losing key defender Marge Donovan, who transferred from Princeton University this year, the attack mentality still held strong. All-Americans Abby Bosco and Sterling led the charge, but it was redshirt freshman Kennedy Major who made a number of eye-catching plays. Among those included a phenomenal clear as well as a coast-to-coast sprint which showcased her athleticism and highlighted why she was the No. 1 defender recruit in the 2021 class. A bevy of midfielders were also quite active on this side of the ball, double-teaming almost every ball-carrier that entered the eight-meter arc.

2. Ball movement on offense. Sneaky is one way to describe this year’s Terps offense. They are amazingly patient, and Saturday, struck at times that one simply wouldn’t expect. It’s a testament to the elite skill that each member of the team possesses. Clevenger is often lauded as the premier playmaker, which is to be understood, as she had four assists today. However, there were times where the roles were reversed, with other players making sharp decisions with the ball around the crease to find cutting attackers. A perfect example of this was Edmonson’s deft juke move and subsequent pass to draw a second defender and find a wide-open Clevenger in front for a score.

3. Draw controls/free position opportunities. In such an overwhelming victory, most would expect Maryland to control every aspect of the game. However, the box score says otherwise, noting that the Terps only won three more draw controls than the Hawks — a final margin of 14-11 — and were 2-for-5 on free position opportunities. And, despite the 37 shots, less than 50% hit their target. But Reese knows improvement will need to occur, and should.

“Overall, today, we had some holes. And that will be something that will be good for us to go and look back on,” she said. “I thought we did some things a little [more] frantic than where we want to be. I know it’s game one of the season so there’s a little bit of me trying to give some grace here.”