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Maryland women’s lacrosse enters NCAA Tournament with plenty to fix from 1st loss of season

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The Terrapins have a full week to prepare, and without knowing their opponent, they’ve focused on themselves.

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

Top-seeded Maryland women’s lacrosse is heading into the NCAA Tournament by searching for the fire within itself.

The Terrapins suffered their first loss of the season against Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament final, but with a whole week of practice, they’ve prioritized getting back to the basics.

“I think overall, there was a lack of intensity and energy,” senior midfielder Jen Giles said Tuesday. “We rewatched the game [Monday] and it just seemed like we were a bit stagnant and just not really working together as much as we would’ve hoped. So I think that if we could just take it to the next level, we’ll be moving harder, cutting harder, dodging harder, just kind of all-around take it to the next level, then we’ll be more successful.”

A number of Maryland’s goals against Northwestern came off individual efforts, such as free-position tries and runs or rebounds, rather than hard cuts and dodges resulting in assisted chances. Five of the Terrapins’ first six goals came unassisted, but things picked up in the second half, with four of the five goals coming off assists.

The general consensus from the team after the loss was that bright spots existed, but the overall picture still isn’t a positive one.

“To be totally honest with you, we were not very good,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “We weren’t very good all-around. I thought we made some great defensive plays, and some great defensive stops, and then we just didn’t capitalize on the other end.”

Senior goalie Megan Taylor was able to come up with eight saves, and even reached the career milestone of 700 career saves in the process. Defensively as a team, Maryland also won the turnover battle, 11-10. But the Terrapins’ lack of offensive pressure and intensity led to the lopsided effort.

“Coming off of a loss, and coming off of where we were, we’ve been really fortunate, I say —not forced to, but fortunate — to just take a hard look at ourselves,” Reese said. “‘What can we do better, to be better?’ Sometimes if you win [the game heading into the postseason] you don’t think about things the same way.”

The Terrapins received a rather tough second-round draw, as they will either face off with Stony Brook or defending national champion James Madison. Maryland already defeated the Dukes, 18-5, earlier this season, but Stony Brook could pose a more imminent threat.

The Seawolves rank 13th nationally in scoring offense, but also are third in the country in scoring defense, while Maryland comes in ranked seventh in scoring offense, but fell to fifth in scoring defense after the Big Ten tournament. The Terrapins faced a much tougher schedule, though, and Reese believes being battle-tested is the strength of her team as it moves deeper into May.

Maryland knows that its best can beat any team in the country. So regardless of who they end up facing this weekend, the Terrapins are focusing inward to make sure they’re ready for anything.

“I think [the key is] just focusing on ourselves and focusing on the little things that we can do better as a team and working for each other,” senior attack Caroline Steele said. “We don’t really care who our opponent is. We just want to play our game.”