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Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. Virginia preview

A chance to make history and remain perfect is in the cards in Charlottesville on Wednesday.

Maryland women’s lacrosse Cathy Reese media day Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

No. 2-ranked Maryland women’s lacrosse (12-0, 3-0) will be headed to Charlottesville, VA, on Wednesday to face of with the No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers (9-4, 1-4).

A win in this game will mark Cathy Reese’s 261st win, and would give her the program record for total wins as head coach. Reese is currently tied with her own former coach Cindy Timchal, who finished her career with 260 wins between 1991-2006.

“I played for Cindy and I worked for Cindy, so all I really know is Cindy,” Reese said when asked about the lessons she’s learned. “She’s who I’ve learned everything from as far as lacrosse goes. ... To be able to learn from her as a player, and learn from her as her assistant for five years, it’s learning from the best out there.”

Similar to Timchal, Reese has taken her players under her wing and encouraged them to live their best life.

“Not only is she the best coach I’ve ever had, but she’s truly a ‘mom figure’ in all of our lives,” redshirt junior Meghan Doherty noted. “[Reese] teaches us how to handle life and not just lacrosse. She gives us so much more than the aspects of lacrosse—it’s about being a better person. ... She deserves nothing but the best and it’s awesome to see that this will be happening, and hopefully it will be an awesome celebration for us.”

A key lesson that Reese has taught her players about lacrosse is taking things one moment at a time, and despite the magnitude of Wednesday’s moment, the team remains locked in.

“Cathy always makes sure that we’re not getting ahead of ourselves and really just staying in the moment and focusing on the next competition we have,” senior Jen Giles said. “We have Virginia on Wednesday, our only focus, the biggest game of the season right now is the game we play on Wednesday.”

Opening face off between Maryland and Virginia is set for 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday and can be streamed via the ACC Network Extra on WatchESPN.

No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers (9-4, 1-4 ACC)

2018 record: 10-10, 4-3

Head coach Julie Myers is in her 24th season at the helm. In each of her first 23 seasons, Myers led Virginia to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and she has tallied over 300 wins. Under her direction, the Cavaliers have reached eight NCAA Championships and won the title in 2004. Myers graduated from Virginia, finishing her career as a graduate student in 1991, and helping lead the team to an NCAA Championship in her final season. Along with the title in 2004 as head coach, Myers became the first person to win a national title as both a player and coach.

Players to know

Junior midfielder Sammy Mueller (No. 2) has been a dominant threat for Virginia, scoring 32 goals on 76 shots and totaling 49 points overall so far in 2019. She has also converted 7 of 15 free-position chances, so limiting her looks at the net, especially from eight-meter chances, will be huge.

Senior midfielder Maggie Jackson (No. 14) comes in as the best all-around player for the Cavaliers in 2019, as she’s scored 23 goals and notched a team-leading 25 assists to bring her to 48 points on the season. She also leads the team with 55 draw controls, but also has the most turnovers with 34 through 13 games.

Senior attack Avery Shoemaker (No. 6) leads Virginia with 35 goals, and has done so by shooting 53.8 percent so far this season. She has also scored nine of her 13 free-position chances, so limiting her looks will certainly be a staple in this matchup.

Three things to watch

1. How will Maryland fare against a strong defensive team? The Cavaliers come into this matchup giving up just over 10 goals per game, but also forcing nearly 17 turnovers per game. While Maryland still ranks highly based on low turnover numbers, there is always room to improve.

Reese continued to note that turnovers happen on both ends of the field for Maryland, and that the solution boils down to relaxing and making better decisions on both the offensive and defensive ends. She jokingly mentioned how great a game with no turnovers would be, but realistically said the goal was to be under 10.

2. Can the Terrapins continue their dominance of the Cavaliers? Virginia has lost its last 13 matchups against Maryland, with its last win coming in the 2008 ACC tournament. The Cavaliers have struggled to beat many high-ranked opponents this year, but took down James Madison and lost by just one to North Carolina. This matchup provides Virginia another chance to reverse its fortunes and get a statement win, so the Cavaliers will be hungry.

3. Will the Terrapins churn out another fantastic defensive performance? After holding its last five opponents to a combined 22 goals, Maryland faces a tough test against a Virginia team that averages almost 14 goals per game. It won’t be easy to hold the Cavaliers to single digits, but it’s a worthwhile goal.

“I honestly think that our trust in each other has really been a huge part in us being able to play so well,” Doherty said of the back line’s recent success. “We’ve made a lot of decisions knowing that our teammate has our backs, so it’s really awesome being able to communicate through each and every decision we make, and knowing that if we make a mistake our teammate will be there to pick us right back up.”