After Drexel made it a four-goal game with about nine minutes remaining, Maryland women’s lacrosse’s Libby May decided she’d had enough. She first scored on a free position shot and a subsequent perfectly placed bounce shot, calmly putting the Terps back up by six.
The Terps controlled the rest of the contest, defeating Drexel 15-9 Tuesday afternoon in Philadelphia. May finished with six goals.
In its last match against Syracuse, Maryland often found itself rushing its plays. Instead of making the right decision, they simply made the first one that was presented to them. Against the Dragons, the Terps took a much different approach.
Right from the first draw control, Maryland showed considerable patience on offense, working the ball around well.
On their first goal, the Terps returned to the same offensive attack that proved so effective against St. Joseph’s, which was allowing junior attacker Eloise Clevenger to use her creativity and passing savvy from behind the goal. Senior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn was the beneficiary of Clevenger’s vision, putting the Terps up 1-0 early on.
“I think something that we really wanted to focus on this week offensively was our shooting,” May said. “Just focusing on the specific details of our offense ... really doing the correct rotations and working together.”
In the first quarter, there were a few eye-opening instances that Maryland fans should take note of. First, Maryland capitalized on its free position and woman-up opportunities; neither were strong suits in its fall to Syracuse.
“Today, we shot over 50%, so I think that was great to see,” head coach Cathy Reese stated. “We shot well from the eight-meter today too; I think we were five for seven, that was good.”
Additionally, the Terps were strong on defense in the first frame. Although the Dragons didn’t have too many chances on offense — a credit to Ahearn on the draw controls — the Terps were dominant on defense. Senior goalie Emily Sterling made a few impressive saves in net and Maryland’s individual defenders were both physical and stifling.
In the second quarter, there was no scoring for quite a while. Drexel’s premier scorer, senior midfielder Corinne Bednarik, broke the silence about six minutes into the action. Her goal came after an impressive dodge against Maryland graduate defender Marge Donovan, who made her return in today’s match.
About a minute later, Bednarik struck again to cut Maryland’s lead to four. Clearly, the Dragons were simply looking to isolate their most skilled offensive talent. On her second goal, Bednarik worked from the X position behind the net and slashed her way to the front of the goal mouth for a magnificent score.
Despite being the faster, more gifted team, Maryland got away from what makes it such an imposing unit on offense in quarter two. With a lead, the Terps took their foot off the gas and made a number of uncharacteristic blunders.
Maryland had an offensive foul, shot clock violation and fired a few errant shots. The Terps also didn’t move the ball that well. Instead, they attempted to beat defenders one-on-one.
This all culminated in a dismal sequence for the Terps, who nearly had a scoreless quarter if not for May’s heroics with less than a second remaining. The Terps led at the half by a score of 8-4, but lost the second frame 3-1.
In the third quarter, the Terps immediately showed an increase in energy. They hounded the Dragons on every offensive possession and were quick to clear the ball following a turnover. This boosted the Terps’ offensive attack, and senior attacker Hannah Leubecker featured her goal scoring prowess.
“We found a way to answer,” Reese mentioned. “Just times when maybe things were unsettled and Drexel had had a couple, these guys came up big.”
Despite the two goals potted by Drexel, Maryland maintained a fairly convincing 11-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth frame, the Terps initally had a bit of a scare when the Dragons made it a four goal game. However, the squad remained calm, and May netted two straight within the span of just over a minute to put the Terps back up by six.
Additionally, Kori Edmondson continued to show why she was the No. 1 recruit this past year, putting on a dodging and shooting clinic. This resulted in her second career goal mid-way through the quarter.
Overall, Maryland’s defense held strong and kept its shape in the final frame en route to the victory.
The Terps will now travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators at 12 p.m. this Saturday.
Three things to know
1. Two offensive threats shined. May and Leubecker may just be the answer on offense for the Terps. Despite neither getting in rhythm in the Terps’ last fixture against Syracuse, both displayed their supreme ability and potential. They scored in a number of different ways, from free position shots to quick releases to fast breaks. Ultimately, May notched six goals, while Leubecker put four past Drexel goalkeeper Jenika Cuocco. Most importantly, this showing should give Maryland fans solace in the team’s ability to score.
“Our goal this week was, one, to be more aggressive, more precise, and just hungrier [around] the cage,” May stated. “I think what allowed for those opportunities was our offense collectively moving together as a whole.”
2. The Terps never lost focus. Despite runs by Drexel in the second and fourth quarters, Maryland never wavered. Both times the Terps brushed it off and they regained their composure. Why is this so important? If Maryland wants to still be playing in late May, it’s paramount that it doesn’t lose its focus after bad stretches against the elite teams in the nation. Having this experience against Drexel was essential to the Terps’ mentality and growth.
“We had a great first quarter, and then we didn’t have a very good second quarter,” Reese said. “We need to change that and make sure that we can kind of keep our foot on the gas every opportunity that we have to play.”
3. Dominating ground balls and draw controls. Simply put, winning begins with the fundamentals, and that’s just what the Terps prioritized today. They had 12 ground balls and beat out the Dragons 20-8 on draw controls. If Maryland wants to win high-level games, it’s important it doesn’t overlook these seemingly little things. Today, it aptly described the Terps’ aggressive style of play.
“I think that it’s super important,” midfielder Shaylan Ahearn said of the draw control victories. “I trust my attackers once I get it over the line that they’re going to be be able to execute and finish on that end.”