A battle in sweltering Gainesville this past weekend culminated in a win for the No. 6 Terps, who triumphed over the No. 7 Florida Gators.
Despite some ups and downs, which included a 31-minute scoring drought in the second and third quarters, Maryland was able to gut out a victory. Clutch goals by Victoria Hensh and Kate Sites down the stretch put the Terps over the top, 14-13.
Next, Maryland will have the chance to double up on marquee wins when it squares off against No. 12 James Madison.
The Dukes have performed well to begin their season, with their only loss coming in their opener versus No. 1 North Carolina. In that defeat, they still only lost by five. In its subsequent contests, James Madison went 3-0, beating its opponents by a combined score of 38-21.
Wednesday’s game will begin at 5 p.m. and stream on ESPN+.
James Madison Dukes (3-1, 0-0 AAC)
2022 record: 14-5, 6-0 AAC
Shelley Klaes is now in her 17th season coaching James Madison lacrosse. She has amassed a 248-125 career record, and brought the Dukes their first national championship in 2018. In 2022, Klaes led the program to its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Klaes was also named the National Coach of the Year by womenslacrosse.com in 2010, and in 2017, became the program’s all-time leader in wins. In her playing days, Klaes was a two-time All-American at James Madison.
Players to watch
Isabella Peterson, redshirt junior attacker, No. 17 — Peterson was recently named the Attack Player of the Week by the American Athletic Conference. Peterson scored eight goals on Saturday, tying her own program record. She also added 11 shots on goal and seven draw controls, both of which were season highs. Last year, Peterson was a Third Team IWLCA All-American, Tewaaraton Award nominee and was a five-time CAA Player of the Week. She put up a whopping 72 goals and 87 total points.
Maddie Epke, freshman midfielder, No. 20 — Epke is the reigning American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week. In Saturday’s game against High Point, Epke dished out six assists and put in a goal of her own. It was the first six-assist game by a Duke since 2021. In addition, Epke had four draw controls, two ground balls and a caused turnover. So far this season, she has started all four games and notched 14 total points.
Rachel Matey, redshirt senior defender, No. 22 — Matey ranks second all-time in draw controls at James Madison with 197. Last season, she was a team captain and started all 19 games for the Dukes. She was also a First Team All-CAA and VaSID Second Team All-State selection. Matey picked up 25 ground balls and caused 24 turnovers in 2022.
Offense. In four games this season, James Madison has put up 47 goals, which may not sound impressive — that is, until you see the teams they’ve matched up against. The Dukes already have two double-digit goal scorers in Peterson and Tai Jankowski. James Madison is also second in the conference in assists per game (6) and draw controls per game (15). The only knock on this talented offense is the amount of turnovers it racks up. So far this season, it has accumulated 41.
Goaltending. Against No. 1 North Carolina to kick off the season, the Dukes actually outshot the Tar Heels and also outperformed them in the caused turnover and draw control metrics. However, the goaltending, and at times the defense, did not hold up well. They allowed North Carolina nine free-position shots. So far this season, James Madison’s starting goaltender Kat Buchanan averages only 5.5 saves per game to go with a mediocre .415 save percentage.
Three things to watch
1. Can Libby May continue her hot streak? Over the past two games, Libby May has netted twelve goals on over 50% shooting. Terps head coach Cathy Reese even mentioned after the game against Florida that there were some shots that May would’ve wanted back, demonstrating the sheer potential she has in the scoring department.
The sudden increase in production after only three goals in the first two matchups clearly represents a concerted effort to find May more often. There’s no question as to why this would be the game plan, either, as May is an elite cutter and possesses arguably the best release on the squad.
2. How will the Terps respond to physical play? Maryland has already started to prove that it will make teams pay for fouling, executing a high clip of their free-position shots (5 of 6) against Florida.
However, Florida went on a run when it were able to outwork the Terps on ground balls, eliminate offensive cutters and drive its way into the arc for scoring opportunities. Once again, it comes back to the point that Maryland will need to play to its utmost potential for 60 full minutes. If it is able to do so, it will be successful.
3. Shutting down the star. In Saturday’s matchup, the Terps allowed Florida’s best attacker, Emma LoPinto, to tally five points, four of which were goals. Although the Terps probably won’t be able to keep Peterson scoreless, they should put extra emphasis into stalling her production. This could come in the form of a double team or sealing her off when she’s cutting into passing lanes.
Peterson scored five of the Dukes’ nine goals and added an assist against North Carolina. If Maryland is able to frustrate Peterson and limit her output, the Terps should fare well on Wednesday.