After closing out its ninth straight victory at home against Ohio State, No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse hits the road for its last two matches to close out the regular season.
Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes served as one of the most dominant Maryland victories of the season, as the Terps cruised to a wire-to-wire 18-7 blowout. Junior attacker Eloise Clevenger set the new single-game program record for assists with eight. Senior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn, who was named the Big Ten Midfielder of the Week, reached the 100 draw control win mark Saturday — her second straight campaign doing so.
Now, the Terps will turn their attention to a surging program in No. 18 Penn State.
After a tough 2022 season in which they went 6-9, the Nittany Lions have completely rebounded. They won their first four matches before dropping a contested game to then- No. 8 Loyola, 11-7. Last month, Penn State defeated Ohio State 13-3, showcasing its ability to control conference games. However, in its last match, Michigan had the advantage, defeating the Nittany Lions 10-8.
Thursday’s game will begin at 8 p.m. and air on Big Ten Network.
Penn State Nittany Lions (10-4, 2-2 Big Ten)
2022 record: 6-9, 0-6 Big Ten
Missy Doherty is in her 13th season coaching Penn State. She’s led the Nittany Lions to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and four NCAA quarterfinals. She has coached a total of 35 IWLCA All-Americans and nine conference award winners. In 2015, she was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. A Maryland alum, Doherty was a four-year starting defender, helping the Terps to three NCAA championships. She previously coached at Vanderbilt, Brown and Towson.
Three players to know
Kristin O’Neill, junior midfielder, No. 19 — O’Neill has recorded at least one goal in each of Penn State’s games this season. The Maryland native ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 36 tallies. Over the last two campaigns, O’Neill was previously named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List, and in 2023, was selected as a Big Ten Player to Watch. O’Neill has received ILWomen Midseason All-American honorable mention honors this season.
Sammy Dupcak, junior defender, No. 2 — Another Maryland native, Dupcak was on the Big Ten Players to Watch List in the preseason. She’s received ILWomen Midseason All-American honorable mention honors, as was announced March 31. This season, Dupcak has caused 21 turnovers, scooped up 32 ground balls and won 20 draw controls. She ranks second in the conference in ground balls and third in caused turnovers.
Ellie Hollin, sophomore defender, No. 16 — Hollin is in the midst of her second successful season as a Nittany Lion. On March 29, she was named the IWLCA Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Yet another Maryland native, Hollin ranks fifth in the conference in ground balls (21) and sixth in caused turnovers (17).
Caused turnovers. The Penn State defense has been playing at a sensational level all season. Despite some inconsistencies, the unit has been rock solid, holding six teams to under 10 goals. The Nittany Lions rank No. 1 in caused turnovers per game in the Big Ten with 10.64. Maryland, which was widely considered to be a top-flight defense coming into the season, ranks last in the conference in turnovers per game with 7.53.
Shooting percentage. The Nittany Lions rank last in shooting percentage in the Big Ten (.369). The Terps have done a masterful job this season of holding teams to low shot totals, which should help them to hold Penn State to a low score Thursday.
Three things to watch
1. Award winners. On Tuesday, graduate defender Abby Bosco was named both the IWLCA National Defensive Player of the Week and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, Clevenger was selected as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Ahearn was named the Big Ten Midfielder of the Week.
Effectively the best players at each of their respective positions, they’ll all be around the ball quite a bit.
2. Lineups. When asked Tuesday afternoon if there would be any alterations to the current lineup heading into the postseason, Maryland head coach Cathy Reese highlighted her confidence in the group of players she’s put on the field.
“Our lineup has been pretty consistent for the past few games,” Reese said. “Knock on wood, no one gets injured or anything, but I think that’s what we’ll be.”
3. Tons of shots. Over each of the past four games, the Terps have improved their shooting percentage. On Saturday, they shot at a blistering 56.3% clip while firing 27 balls at the cage.
The Terps have had no scoring woes as of late. It will be interesting to see if they choose to deploy an aggressive style of attack, given that the Nittany Lions have surrendered double-digit goals in each of their past three games.