Maryland women's lacrosse, fresh off the heels of a national championship victory, is 2-0 to start the 2018 season. Following a win at home against William & Mary to kick off the year, the Terrapins traveled down to Gainesville to face off against the Florida Gators. While the final score of 16-14 doesn't exactly convey a convincing victory for the Terps, they were winning 16-9 in the second half before Florida attempted a comeback.
Now, Cathy Reese’s team will travel to Chapel Hill for a battle against the No. 8 UNC, who beat Maryland for the 2016 national title. The Terps haven’t lost since.
No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels (2-1)
2017 record: 17-3 (6-1 ACC)
Head coach Jenny Levy is in her 23rd season of her accomplished career at UNC. With a combined record of 314-110, she has the third most wins in Division I history. A two-time national champion and Coach of the Year, Levy is one of the best lacrosse minds in the country.
Players to know
Senior midfielder Marie McCool, No. 4. McCool is best defined in two words: dominant scorer. With 14 goals on the season, she ranks T-4th in the nation. The Terrapins defense will have a tough task in stopping her on Saturday.
Senior attacker Ela Hazar, No. 7. While McCool may lead the team in goals, a huge part of the offense actually runs through runs through Hazar. She's second in the country in assists with nine, as her facilitation of the ball has greatly helped North Carolina's offense.
Sophomore goalie Elise Hennessey, No. 97, and redshirt freshman goalie Taylor Moreno, No. 30. It's a bit unorthodox, but North Carolina has been rolling with a two-goalie rotation. Neither has been particularly great thus far, and they'll face an incredible test against the Terps.
Three things to watch
1. Can anyone stop Megan Whittle? The senior is once again the driving force behind Maryland’s offensive success. Her nine goals through two games not only lead the team, but place her among the best in the country. Not only can she seemingly score at will, Whittle has also showcased her passing abilities when needed. UNC will have to plan for many weapons, but none more so than the senior attacker.
2. Will the goalie rotation work? Hennessey and Moreno have received roughly the same amount of time in net (90 and 97 minutes, respectively), but the latter’s save percentage is considerably higher. Although Hennessey has started each game, it’s been Moreno who is called upon in crunch time. If anyone can contain Maryland’s offense, it’ll be the redshirt freshman.
3. Which coach formulates the better game plan? Both Cathy Reese and Jenny Levy are among the most respected coaches in the sport, and it’ll be fascinating to see these two lacrosse minds go head-to-head on the field. Although the talent levels may differ between the teams, a great gameplan can be an equalizer. We’ll see who leads their team to victory on Saturday.