Maryland women’s lacrosse suffered a tough loss to Boston College in the national semifinal to end its 2018 season, but brings another talented roster into 2019, this time with even more experience.
The Terrapins return key pieces such as Big Ten Defender of the Year Julia Braig, Big Ten Goaltender of the Year Megan Taylor and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Grace Griffin. However, Cathy Reese, the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year, will have to find a way to alter Maryland’s attack after the graduation of attacker Megan Whittle, who holds the Terrapins’ program lead in goals scored, and midfielder Taylor Hensh, who was a team captain during the 2018 season and tallied 41 points last season.
“When you graduate players, it’s the same every year—so challenging,” Reese said during Maryland’s spring media day. “Everyone has done so much for the women’s lacrosse program over their four years, and then they’re gone. Then you look at the next group, it’s not about replacing them, it’s adjusting to get the most out of what your group does well.”
Maryland’s squad will be infused with young talent, as the 2018 recruiting class brings in 10 players to counter the loss of Whittle and Hensh. Seven of the 10 recruits were ranked in the Inside Lacrosse Power 100, including Julia Hoffman (14th) and Madison Rielly (21st) on attack, along with Kennedy Lynch (42nd) and Darby Walsh (16th) in the midfield. In addition, Maryland added Erica Evans, who was a former All-American midfielder for Canisius.
Along with Braig, Maryland’s defense returns Meghan Doherty, Lizzie Colson and Shelby Mercer, who all took part in each of the Terrapins’ 22 matches last season. Behind the defense, Taylor, who has played in all but one match in her three seasons at Maryland, will bring as much experience as one can bring to the position.
“Our defense being another year older is going to be a key part for us this season,” Reese mentioned. “I think the confidence and knowing what to expect is giving us a great start to this season.”
This Maryland senior class enters their final season with a career record of 65-3, three Big Ten conference championships, and a 1-1 record in national championship games.
“Every team is going to play like it’s the National Championship,” Braig said when asked about representing the Maryland program on the field. “We love that because it means that we always have to play our best game. It’s always going to be a tough game.”
The Terrapins certainly haven’t made their 2019 journey easy by any stretch. Out of Maryland’s 17-game schedule, the second-ranked Terrapins will face off against nine teams ranked in the US Lacrosse Magazine top 20, and face two teams that earned votes but fell short of the list.
Since joining the Big Ten in 2015, Maryland has dominated in conference play, with its only loss coming against Ohio State during the 2015 Big Ten tournament. Prior to the 2019 season, the Conference unanimously voted Maryland as the preseason favorite, and listed Braig, Taylor and fellow senior Jen Giles as players to watch.
“I really feel like this is going to be an exciting year,” Reese said. “This group is a lot of fun. They work hard, but they have a good time, so that makes coaching them a lot of fun.”
Maryland opens its season on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, as the Terps host George Mason at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.