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Maryland women’s lacrosse still fine-tuning offense ahead of matchup with Syracuse

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The Terps put up 17 goals last weekend, but still think they can be more efficient.

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

Maryland women’s lacrosse was happy to have a full week off before traveling to upstate New York for a Sunday showdown with the No. 8-ranked Syracuse Orange.

“I’m excited to have some time to really focus on the details,” head coach Cathy Reese said.

Having scored 17 goals last time out against Hofstra, the offense would normally be pretty happy with its performance. The Pride’s defense is among the best in the country, allowing just 28 goals in four non-Maryland games.

But when Saturday’s matinee was over, there was one shared feeling throughout the team: they could’ve done more. The Terrapins totaled an incredible 46 shots, leaving them with a .370 percentage; in their four previous games, Maryland shot .512 as a team.

“I don’t think we were as sharp as we needed to be,” Reese said. “We shot a lot, yes, but quality ones not so much. We gotta take it and learn from it and be ready for the next one.”

“It definitely wasn’t our best day shooting,” junior midfielder Jen Giles added after the game. “I think we just needed to take that extra second to really see the net.”

Against a top-10 team like Syracuse, looks won’t come easy for the Terps. Maryland will have to improve its offensive efficiency in Sunday’s matchup, and if it doesn’t, the team could be in for a long day.

The Orange are coming off an impressive home win against No. 4 Florida on Wednesday. Sunday’s game at the Carrier Dome is slated to begin at 1 p.m. ET and can be seen on ACC Network Extra.

Syracuse Orange (4-1)

2016-17 record: 15-7 (5-2 ACC)

Head coach Gary Gait is in his 11th season at Syracuse. He’s brought a lot of success to the program since his arrival, posting a 154-49 (.759) record. The Orange have made two national championships under him as well as winning three ACC tournament trophies.

Players to know

Sophomore attacker Emily Hawryschuk, No. 51. The leader of this Syracuse offense, Hawryschuk has 10 goals so far this season. As a freshman last year, she was second in both points and goals. She may not have a lot of experience yet, but Hawryschuk is getting more and more dangerous with every day.

Senior attacker Alie Jimerson, No. 23. In addition to being tied for second on the team in points, Jimerson leads Syracuse with five assists. Having played four years in Gait’s system, the senior knows what it takes to facilitate the ball and keep the offense running smoothly.

Three things to watch

1. Will Megan Taylor repeat her performance? Last year’s National Goaltender of the Year struggled in the first few games of the season, but bounced back with a big game against Hofstra. The senior saved 13 shots while only allowing 10 goals, one of her best performances of the year. Taylor’s success is the key to Maryland staying dominant.

2. Who steps up next for Maryland? Brindi Griffin was the latest member of the Terps to break out and help complement Megan Whittle and the other stars on offense. In past games, Nikki Sliwak and Kacie Longo had great games to keep the defenses guessing as to who will take the big shot. We’ll have to wait and see who fills that role in Sunday’s game.

3. How does Maryland stop Syracuse’s vast arsenal of weapons? One of the strongest aspects of Syracuse’s offense is their ability to score with anyone. While Hawryschuk leads with 11 points, nine players on the team have at least five. Maryland’s defense will be at a disadvantage by not being able to key in on a specific player, and the Terps will need the veterans to understand the situation in front of them at all times.