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Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. Syracuse preview

The Terrapins are set to play their third top-four opponent in five games.

Maryland women’s lacrosse Kali Hartshorn vs. George Mason Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Maryland women’s lacrosse plays host to fourth-ranked Syracuse this Saturday at noon ET in another key early-season test.

After road wins against UMBC and Hofstra last week, the Terrapins have had a week to recuperate and prepare for a tough task. After taking down Florida on the road and North Carolina at home in overtime, Saturday’s game will allow the Terrapins to add on to their early season resume.

“It was a good week for us,” head coach Cathy Reese said, “It was our first week to have two games, both obviously on the road, but two games in a week that led to shorter rest, shorter recovery time, shorter preparation time, so it was a good challenge for us.”

With the lack of full recovery time and break from highly-ranked opponents, Reese and her staff were able to throw some freshmen into the mix. Getting young players minutes early could be key for Maryland as the season wears on in order to keep players ready for big games. Freshman goalkeeper Maddie McSally was able to log 48 minutes and a save percentage of 60 percent over the last two games, handling most of the second half duties behind senior Megan Taylor, who was named Big Ten Defender of the Week despite having just about two first halves of lacrosse to display.

The excitement level is high for Maryland as the team thrives off of playing the best of the best, and Saturday brings a new chance for the Terrapins to continue growing.

The Orange have had a successful start to their 2019 campaign, with six wins and their only loss coming against No. 1-ranked Boston College. Syracuse has won three straight matchups against top-13 opponents, but has yet to play a road game, so Saturday’s trip to College Park will be a new environment.

No. 4 Syracuse Orange (6-1)

2018 record: 9-10, 1-6 ACC

Head coach Gary Gait is in his 12th season as head coach of the Orange and has accumulated a career record of 150-48. Under his control, Syracuse has made the NCAA Tournament in 10 of his 11 seasons, including two championship appearances in 2012 and 2015. Before his time as head coach, Gait spent nine years at Maryland as an assistant, and took part in seven national titles between 1995-2001. As a player at Syracuse, Gait won three national championships between 1988-90 (The third of which was vacated by the NCAA) and went on to play in the NLL and MLL, earning MVP awards in each league.

Players to know

Junior attack Emily Hawryschuk (No. 51) leads the Orange in goals and points so far in 2019, with 22 goals and six assists for 28 points through seven games. As a sophomore in 2018, Hawryschuk was named to the All-ACC First Team after leading the Orange in goals with 53 and points with 61, both of which were career highs.

Senior attack Nicole Levy (No. 12) has been one of the most efficient and productive players for Syracuse through its first seven games. She enters Saturday’s matchup tied for second on the team in goals with 14, first in assists with 11, and second to Hawryschuk in points with 25. She also is shooting 50 percent on the season, so the Terrapins can’t afford to play off her ability to support the attack.

Junior goalie Asa Goldstock (No. 21) has started all seven games, posting a goals-against average of 9.18 and a save percentage of .414. She notched 11 saves against Boston College, and a strong performance in net could lead to another close matchup similar to Maryland and North Carolina.

Three things to watch

1. Do Maryland’s turnovers keep rising? After committing 18 giveaways total against UNC and UMBC, the Terrapins had 18 turnovers against Hofstra. Cathy Reese simply chalked the mistakes up to complacency and noted that they were coming on both ends of the field in different games. Maryland will have to make sure it takes care of the ball against a Syracuse team that has caused an average of 12.9 turnovers per game.

2. Can Maryland out-hustle Syracuse on the draw? Draws have been a constant talking point for the Terrapins this season, and have gotten progressively better. “I think our circle people are really, really strong,” junior Kali Hartshorn said. “They play really hard, and they make my job a lot easier.” Maryland struggled to win balls around the circle against North Carolina, but showed improvements against UMBC and Hofstra. An ability for Maryland to start on the offensive end consistently against tougher opponents will naturally yield a better chance to win.

3. Will Cathy Reese continue to use an expanded rotation? Maryland played with a deep roster last week to help with the increased number of games per week, but has not used many different players when going against high-ranking opponents. The Terrapins should have Caroline Steele back after two weeks of rest, but the option to play younger bodies to keep Maryland fresh will be something to keep an eye on.