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Maryland women’s lacrosse opens season with 16-5 domination of George Mason

The Terps get an easy victory to start the season.

Maryland women’s lacrosse Caroline Steele vs. George Mason Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland women’s lacrosse opened its 2019 campaign with a 16-5 win over George Mason on Saturday afternoon in College Park.

Senior midfielder Jen Giles led the way, scoring five goals and adding an assist, while attackers Caroline Steele and Kali Hartshorn each recorded a hat trick. Graduate transfer Erica Evans chipped in two goals and two assists in her Maryland debut. The Terrapins finished with 41 shots (29 on goal) and a stifling defensive effort, which included 18 forced turnover to dominate the Patriots.

The Terrapins gave up a goal to George Mason on their first possession of the game, but the defense that head coach Cathy Reese said would make a difference this season tightened up and allowed Maryland to build a lead. The Terrapins would go on a 5-1 run after that first George Mason goal, forcing a timeout by the Patriots just under 16 minutes into the contest. At the half, Maryland led 9-4 thanks to hat tricks by Giles and Steele, plus two goals by Evans. The Terrapins had 21 shots, 15 on goal, in the first 30 minutes, and allowed George Mason just six shots total.

After nine goals allowed in the first half, George Mason replaced junior goaltender Melissa Semkiw with senior Elizabeth Benedetto, but not much changed in the second half. Giles scored her fourth of the game to open the second-half scoring less than two minutes in, Grace Griffin added her first of the season 13 seconds and Meghan Siverson scored her first of the season to give Maryland a quick 12-4 lead just six minutes into the second half. Goalkeeper Megan Taylor also had two key saves during this stretch to help maintain the Terrapin lead.

Maryland continued to pour it on in the second half, finishing with a 16-5 win. Taylor allowed just one goal in the final 33:55 of the game.

The Terrapins will head down to Gainesville, Florida, on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET to take on the Florida Gators, who are 1-0 and entered the season as the No. 6-ranked team by InsideLacrosse.

Three things to know

1. The turnover battle was key. Head coach Cathy Reese said earlier this week that she wanted her team to be focused in on not turning the ball over, and the Terrapins did a solid job in their first time out. Maryland turned the ball over six times, which is more than Reese would like to see in a game, but getting the ball back and also forcing 18 turnovers by George Mason helped even out the mistakes. “I thought offensively, when we did turn it over, some of our players fought really hard to get the ball back,” Reese said. “I don’t want the first turn over to happen, but we’ll keep working to get better in the season as it goes on.”

2. Erica Evans fit right in. The graduate transfer from Canisius shined in her first game as a Terp. She finished with two goals and two assists, and provided plenty of spark to an offense looking to find its groove. “She’s really settling in,” Reese said when asked about Evans’s performance, “For her first time coming out there and realizing the energy that surrounds Maryland lacrosse, and being a part of all that, she did a great job.” All of Maryland’s midfield received praise from their head coach after the game, and Evans will certainly be a big part of such an important unit throughout this season.

3. Shooting still needs improvement. The Terrapins were able to win comfortably in this one, but that was simply because the team was able to get 41 shots, 29 of which were on goal. “I would’ve liked to have shot a little better,” Reese said. “I want to be at least over 50 percent; it’s kind of our goal and weren’t there today.” Consistency will come with time, and with a long season ahead, it’s unlikely that this will be a typical scoring day for Maryland.