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Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. Penn State preview

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The Terps will face a ranked team for the eighth time this year.

NCAA Lacrosse: Women's Semi Final-Maryland vs Syracuse Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With two games remaining in the season, Maryland women’s lacrosse gets set to face two ranked Big Ten opponents. First up is No. 5 Penn State, who has won seven straight games and have outscored its opponents 104-64 in that stretch. The Nittany Lions’ only loss came against No. 8 Colorado at home. After this game, Maryland will have played five teams currently ranked in the top 10 and 10 teams that were ranked at one point this season.

The first draw from State College will be at 7 p.m. ET, and the game will be available on BTN2Go.

No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions (14-1)

Head coach Missy Doherty. Doherty is currently in her seventh season at Penn State after spending the previous seven at Towson. She has a combined record of 160-89 as a head coach, including eight NCAA tournament appearances. Additionally, Doherty graduated from Maryland in 1997 and won three championships as a member of the women’s lacrosse team.

Players to Watch

Steph Lazo, 5’4, Attack, No. 23. The Nittany Lions points leader this season, Lazo has had a tremendous senior season with 39 goals and a team-high 33 assists. Her 72 points are tied for eighth in the country, while she is also tied for 11th in total assists and alone at 12th with 4.8 points per game.

Madison Carter, 5’8, Attack/Midfield, No. 24. Carter has been one of the nation’s best goal scorers, ranking seventh in the country with a team-leading 52 and ninth with 3.47 per game. She also leads Penn State with 86 draw controls and comes in at 11th in the country with 5.73 draw controls per game.

Katie O’Donnell, 5’7, Midfield, No. 5. The junior, who scored 77 total goals in her first two seasons, is second on the team with 42 this year. She has registered nine goals total in her last two games and also leads Penn State with six yellow cards.

Strengths

Explosive offense. Behind the trio of Lazo, Carter and O’Donnell, Penn State has built up the 18th-ranked offense in the country with 14.53 goals per game. Additionally, they are top-20 in both shots per game and shots on goal per game.

Draw controls. Thanks to Carter’s play in the circle, Penn State is tied for 12th with 14.87 controls per game. Kali Hartshorn and the rest of the Terps will have to be on their game during draws Thursday.

Weakness

Free positions. For such a strong offensive team, the Nittany Lions are lackluster during free position attempts. Their free position percentage of .346 is only 90th in the nation, and this is the only category which they are losing this season, allowing a free position percentage of .375.

Three Things to Watch

  1. Kali Hartshorn vs. Madison Carter. Hartshorn is enjoying a tremendous rookie season, but she has a tough matchup against Carter. Maryland needs to find a way to contain Carter to win the game, and that starts with Hartshorn in the middle.
  2. Can Maryland contain Penn State’s big three? The Terps have their defensive work cut out for them, going up against three 30-goal scorers. It’s worth watching which of the three garners the most attention from Maryland and if someone else on Penn State can have a big game to aid its best players.
  3. Can Penn State keep up with Maryland? While the Terps come in with both a top offense and defense, Penn State only has one top unit. The Nittany Lions’ defense hasn’t been dominant, and they need to give their offense a chance in order to succeed.