Just three minutes into the first quarter, No. 11 Maryland women’s lacrosse turned the ball over in its defensive zone. Normally an extremely sound clearing squad, the Terps were unable to transition smoothly this time around.
On the turnover, a Georgetown attacker had a seemingly wide-open look at goal. However, Maryland senior goalkeeper Emily Sterling snuffed out the opportunity, sprinting back into the crease and making a lunging save. It was just one of her season-high 15 saves, and her amazing performance helped the Terps to a 13-4 victory.
“It always feels good to get the first one,” Sterling said. “As soon as you get that first one, you’re like, ‘OK, we’re settled in. We got this. We know what we’re doing.’”
Maryland won its third game in a row, moving to 6-3 on the season. The Terps will begin Big Ten play Saturday at No. 22 Rutgers.
Maryland kicked off the game with a draw control and a subsequent turnover. On its first defensive possession, it stood strong, playing its brand of man defense that it’s molded very well into.
About 40 seconds into the shot clock, the Terps forced their first turnover of the game and swooped in for the ground ball.
On their first offensive possession, a bobbled pass led to a quick turnover. As a result, the Terps were never truly able to get comfortable and work their scheme.
However, they locked up on defense once more, and Sterling made a fantastic save. On their next offensive possession, the Terps didn’t mess around. They completed a few passes with conviction, before junior attacker Chrissy Thomas found sophomore Jordyn Lipkin out front for a quick-release score just feet away from the cage.
Up 1-0, it became Kori Edmondson’s time to shine. The freshman midfielder netted two goals, both on free positions, to mark her fifth straight game with at least one score.
For nearly the entirety of the first frame, the Terrapin defense had Georgetown in a stranglehold. The Hoyas repeatedly tried to isolate behind the net and beat Maryland’s defenders one-on-one.
However, the Terps played with them with intensity and physicality each time, often aggressively doubling. Graduate defender Marge Donovan had two caused turnovers in the frame, using her extended reach to break up passes. The first quarter ended with Maryland in the lead, 4-1.
“We can talk about how great Emily was but she would credit the defense too,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “When it all kind of clicks, it’s a good feeling.”
In the second frame, the Terps erupted, scoring four goals in the first seven minutes while allowing just one. They maintained their aggression on defense, and for the most part, it paid off. The Terps’ defense is at the point where their communication is operating at an extremely high level.
On multiple occasions, when it seemed as though Georgetown had a clear path to the front of the net, the defense was always present to converge and support.
The goals that Georgetown scored in the quarter were simply beautiful shots from tough angles, either over a defender’s head, into the top corner or both.
Ultimately, Maryland commanded the first half, leading by a score of 9-3 after 30 minutes of play.
To begin the third quarter, Maryland controlled the draw, but once more, Georgetown soon got the ball and scored quickly to bring the lead down to five.
However, Maryland regained its momentum shortly after. It has gotten away from some of its issues earlier in the season when it gave up runs to opposing squads.
Instead, it settled things down and didn’t panic. Working the ball around the perimeter proved to be a calming remedy to Georgetown’s quick score.
It was freshman midfielder Emma Muchnick who broke the Terps’ silence in the frame about four minutes in. It came off of a great feed from fellow first-year attacker Maggie Weisman, who has been operating swimmingly behind the net alongside junior attacker Eloise Clevenger.
When Muchnick received the ball within the eight-meter arc, she twisted her stick and finished low on Georgetown’s goalkeeper.
The third frame was a low-scoring defensive battle, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
“I didn’t love our third quarter,” Reese said. “We need to reset and come out of the half full force with our foot on the gas ... 12 turnovers in a half is ridiculous.”
In the final quarter, the Terps mostly deployed their bench players, which highlighted the sheer amount of skill they have on the team. Sophomore midfielder Natalie Pansini scored early on in the frame, marking the sophomore’s third straight game with a goal.
Winning the quarter 3-0, it was clear that Maryland’s offense simply tired out the Hoyas’ defense. The Terps’ ball movement around the perimeter made Georgetown chase them down and become discombobulated.
In the end, Maryland conquered the Big East squad handily, defeating them 13-4.
Three things to know
1. A few special performances. Although it was a comprehensive team effort that resulted in the win, there were a few special performances that stood out. Edmondson, Lipkin and Sterling all stood out at various points and were key contributors.
“Our team’s setting up everyone to be successful,” Edmondson said. “I think especially in that zone, it’s kind of opening up a lot of opportunities.”
Both Lipkin and Edmondson had hat tricks. Lipkin tied her career high for goals in a game. As for Edmondson, she recorded her fourth straight hat trick and should continue to see extended game time. If she maintains the pace she’s been at, it’s likely that she will pass senior attacker Libby May as the Terps’ leading goal scorer. As for Sterling, she posted a ridiculous .789 save percentage, continuing to prove why she was named the 2023 USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason National Goaltender of the Year.
2. Defensive prowess. The Terps showed very few weaknesses on defense in the commanding win. In fact, it was arguably their best defensive performance on the season. As long as they maintain this level of connectivity, there’s no reason they can’t make another run to the Final Four.
The defense caused nine turnovers, allowed 22 shots and was 22-for-25 on clear attempts Wednesday. The numbers, while good, don’t fully represent the substantial effort and teamwork displayed on that side of the ball.
“The reality is we have two kids coming off of injuries last year in Kennedy Major and Clancy [Rheude],” Reese said. “We just needed some time to really kind of get our feet under us.”
3. Steadiness on offense. Although their past few games have been against unranked opponents, the Terps have put an emphasis on sound offense and execution. Wednesday, they did just that, both when their starters and bench were in the game. The Terps had 23 shots, 12 draw control wins and were 4-for-7 on free position opportunities.
“I know that my shooters are capable of excellence,” Reese said. “We’re focusing a lot on being able to handle pressure when [we] play good zone [defense] ... it’s coming along piece by piece.”