A 22-4 vanquishing of William & Mary on Wednesday may have been the morale boost No. 11 Maryland women’s lacrosse needed.
After dropping two straight against formidable ranked opponents, the Terps demolished the Tribe in every facet of the game. Despite surrendering the first goal, they regained their composure quickly and tore apart William & Mary. Their team speed shined and the chemistry they have been developing over the course of the season was evident.
Now, the Terps will travel to Philadelphia to take on Villanova. The Wildcats have performed well so far this season.
In their season opener, they throttled William & Mary 18-6, and proceeded to win their next three in a row. They hit a roadblock, however, when they faced off against USC. In the match, the Wildcats only scored one goal in each quarter en route to a 15-4 loss.
Saturday’s game will begin at 1 p.m.
Villanova Wildcats (5-1, 0-0 Big East)
2022 record: 5-11, 1-4 Big East
Jill Batcheller is now in her second season as head coach of Villanova women’s lacrosse. In her first season, the Wildcats did not exactly perform at a high level, but under Batcheller’s leadership, the squad has already produced the same amount of wins as it did in the entirety of the 2022 season. Before coming to Villanova, Batcheller spent three seasons at Drexel, where she led the program to its first ever top-10 ranking. In her playing career, Batcheller spent four seasons as a starting midfielder for Syracuse, becoming the eighth player in program history to reach 100 career points.
Players to know
Molly Dunphey, senior defender, No. 2 — As a junior, Dunphey started all 16 games for the Wildcats. She had 13 caused turnovers, 18 ground balls and two draw controls. She also started all 17 games for Villanova in her sophomore season. In high school, Dunphey starred on Ridgewood High School’s varsity lacrosse team for four years. In each of her first three seasons there, the team was ranked in the top 20 nationally. So far this season, Dunphey has 10 ground balls, four caused turnovers and a draw control.
Sydney Pappas, sophomore attacker, No. 34 — As a freshman, Pappas appeared in all 16 of Villanova’s games. She scored 32 goals, including five games with four or more; she was a an All-American in high school. So far this season, Pappas leads the Big East with 21 goals. In addition, she also ranks third in the conference in shots per game.
Caroline Curnal, graduate student attacker, No. 22 — As a senior, Curnal was arguably the best player on Villanova. She led the team in draw controls (121), points (44), shots (88) and shots on goal (58). As a result, she was named to the All-Big East First Team and IWLCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region First Team. So far this season, Curnal has 14 goals, and her 46 draw controls lead the Big East by a wide margin.
Continuity. Curnal and Pappas — the top two scorers on last year’s Villanova squad — returned to the program. In addition, Dunphey, the team’s leader on defense, is back. Other players who made an impact last season and returned this year include Sami Carey, Cara Moreau, Addie Fischer and Kayla Gulmi.
Some problems on offense. When taking a look at Villanova’s only loss, which came against USC, it struggled to get going offensively. This was due in part to the staggering 22 turnovers it racked up. In addition, it only had 15 total shots. In the Big East, it ranks fourth in goals per game (12.6), draw controls per game (14.8) and shooting percentage (.441).
Three things to watch
1. Early and consistent offense. In its losses to ranked opponents, Maryland did not successfully attack early. A few of those teams employed a zone defense, which the Terps had a tough time penetrating. In other cases, the Terps produced an early lead, only to fall into a dry spell and allow opponents to climb back into the game.
Against Villanova, it will be crucial for the Terps to maintain an attack mentality on offense if they jump out to an early lead.
2. Defensive hot streak. It should be entertaining to watch Maryland’s defense on Saturday. In their past three games, two of which were against ranked programs, the Terps have held their opponent to eight goals or fewer. Against James Madison, the Terps allowed only 16 shots and two free position opportunities. Against Denver, the Terps allowed 19 shots and won the draw control battle.
If the Terps can hold Villanova to similar totals as James Madison and Denver, then their offense should be able to comfortably carry them to a victory.
3. Rise of Kori Edmondson. It’s no secret that Edmondson, a freshman midfielder, has elite raw skill. She has the ability to be swift and speedy with the ball as well as be imposing physically around the cage. Head coach Cathy Reese has lauded Kori’s aggression and confidence. With seven goals in the past two games, Edmondson will certainly see game action early and often. It will be worth watching to see if she can continue her goal streak and overall dominance on the offensive end.