Maryland women’s lacrosse rocketed to its third straight victory on Wednesday when it thrashed Georgetown, 13-4.
The 11th-ranked Terps have been on a tear lately, holding opponents to eight goals or less in their past five games and scoring 64 goals over that stretch. Against the Hoyas, Maryland’s overall effort was impressive, and goalkeeper Emily Sterling provided a spark in net with some beautiful saves.
Looking to keep their momentum rolling, the Terps begin conference play when they face off against No. 22 Rutgers.
So far, The Scarlet Knights have had an up and down season. After winning their first three matchups rather handily, they dropped their next three in a row. Among those losses was an 18-12 defeat at the hands of No. 15 Princeton, who the Terps play later on in the season. In its most recent game, Rutgers eked out a fourth-quarter comeback victory against Vanderbilt. The final score was 12-10.
Saturday’s game will begin at 12 p.m and stream on Big Ten Plus.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (4-3, 0-1 Big Ten)
2022 record: 16-5, 4-2 Big Ten
Now in her fourth year of coaching the Scarlet Knights, Melissa Lehman has led Rutgers to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances after the program had qualified for just one in its previous 43 seasons. Prior to Rutgers, Lehman was an assistant and associate head coach at Penn for 10 years, helping the Quakers to eight Ivy League titles. In a short time with the Scarlet Knights, Lehman has produced nine All-Big Ten selections, won Big Ten Coach of the Year and led Rutgers to its best season in program history.
Players to know
Meghan Ball, senior defender, No. 4 - Ball has been the backbone of Rutgers’ defense since she arrived. She currently ranks No. 2 in program history for both caused turnovers (94) and draw controls (207). In 2022, she was named a Second Team IWLCA All-American and was named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List. So far this season, Ball has twice been named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
Cassidy Spilis, senior midfielder, No. 8 - In 2022, Spilis broke the record for most goals in a single season at Rutgers with 69. In addition, she ranks No. 3 in program history in draw controls (170) and No. 5 in points (150). Spilis was named Big Ten Midfielder of the Year and selected as an IWLCA All-American in 2022. She currently leads the Scarlet Knights in goals this season, with 23 in seven games.
Marin Hartshorn, graduate attacker, No. 17 - In her illustrious career at Rutgers, Hartshorn ranks No. 4 in program history in both draw controls (153) and assists (65). In 2022, Hartshorn was named Second Team IWLCA All-Region and was an Academic All-Big Ten selection. Currently, she ranks fourth in the Big Ten in assists per game (1.57) and points per game (3.43).
Defense. Other than the anomaly when they faced Princeton and gave up 18 goals, the Scarlet Knights’ defense has performed well. They have held all of their other opponents to 10 goals or less. So far this year, they rank No. 2 in the Big Ten in ground balls per game (18.57) and No. 3 in caused turnovers per game (9.71). Additionally, they rank No. 1 in the conference in save percentage (.496).
Offensive production. Although the Scarlet Knights have had their moments, cumulatively they have not produced a significant offensive output. Currently, they rank dead last in the Big Ten in goals per game (10.14) and fifth in shooting percentage (.368). Against Big Ten foe Penn State, a game they lost 9-7, the Scarlet Knights turned the ball over 27 times and had just 20 shots.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland capitalize on Rutgers turnovers? The Scarlet Knights rank No. 1 in the Big Ten in total turnovers with 141. The Terps have been a consistently nagging defense, and as of late, exceptionally aggressive. Often double-teaming attackers beyond the 12-meter fan, Maryland has been successful at making teams rush their plays, forcing them into more patient offense. As a result, opponents commit more shot-clock violations.
It will be noteworthy to see how Maryland’s aggressive defense fares against an individually talented but turnover-prone Rutgers offense.
2. Some players are in a groove. Kori Edmondson may just be the most valuable player on the Terps’ roster. And that’s on a squad with multiple All-Americans. In her last four games, Edmondson has four hat tricks, and she’s doing it with a .850 shooting percentage.
Jordyn Lipkin has also been productive as of late, scoring five goals in her last two games. She also has three ground balls to go with a caused turnover. Finally, Shannon Smith has been a key contributor too, scoring in each of the Terps’ last three matchups. She has also taken on a defensive midfield role to go along with her offensive production.
3. Start of Big Ten play. It’s always exciting to start conference play no matter the sport, simply because there’s a bigger sense of rivalry involved. Last season, Maryland posted a perfect 6-0 record in the Big Ten. Its first in-conference matchup was Rutgers, and the Terps obliterated them, 16-6. They later revisited the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten Championship. It was a hotly contested first half before the Terps ran away in the second half to win 18-8.
On Saturday, it will be interesting to see if tensions are still high after the two matches last season.