The Maryland athletics offseason is nearing its end, and we at Testudo Times are closing out our State of the Program series. Throughout this series, we have covered 15 different teams and now turn our attention over to the national champion women’s lacrosse program.
The team won the second Maryland national championship, following men’s soccer, and was the third team to reach and NCAA title game in the 2018-19 season. There were highs and lows across the entire Terrapin athletics department, and this article will detail where women’s lacrosse was and where the team is headed.
Maryland women’s lacrosse
All-time record: 728–138–3
Championships: 1 pre-NCAA (1981); 14 NCAA (1986, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Last 5 years: 108-5, 28-0 Big Ten
The coach: Cathy Reese (entering 12th season)
2019: 22-1, 6-0 Big Ten, NCAA Champions
Where it’s been
It’s no secret that Maryland women’s lacrosse is one of the best programs in college athletics. The Terps have made 35 of a possible 37 NCAA Tournament appearances, with 27 Final Fours and 22 national title games, coming home with 15 NCAA titles (15 total). Since its inception in 1974, the program has had just two losing seasons (1975 and 1976) and reached double-digit losses just once, in 2002.
Maryland has also had just four women’s lacrosse coaches, with three of them serving at least 13 seasons at the helm. Sue Tyler led the program to its first national championship, with the AIAW in 1981, and continued coaching through the 1990 season. She passed the program to Cindy Timchal, who won eight NCAA championships, including seven straight from 1995-2001. Cathy Reese, who played under Timchal, then took over in 2007 and has continued the winning tradition all throughout her 13 seasons.
The move from the ACC to the Big Ten was seen as a move that could hurt the Terrapins due to an overall weaker conference, but Reese and her staff have continuously scheduled the best teams in the country outside of conference play, and also have had to face tough challenges from the likes of Northwestern within the conference. All in all, the program has continued to thrive, in its new conference, winning five conference regular-season titles and three conference tournament titles.
Where it’s going
When a program is this dominant, it’s hard to go up any further. Reese and her staff continue to churn out top players to professional leagues while also preparing them for life after lacrosse, while also bringing in some of the best high school talent to replenish the roster.
Winning a national championship puts Maryland back on top of the women’s lacrosse world, and the only thing that could make it better would be to repeat and go on a stretch like Timchal put together in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Cathy Reese coaching tree continuously grows as assistants are given their chances to lead programs after being part of the Maryland women’s lacrosse family. It seems as if the 2019 staff, which included Lauri Kenis and Caitlyn Phillips, could remain intact, which bodes well for a repeat effort in 2020.
Names to know
Maryland loses 10 seniors from the 2019 championship team, but brings in 12 of the nation’s top recruits from 2019 to restock the roster.
The Terrapin attack will be led by rising seniors Kali Hartshorn and Brindi Griffin, but other positions will be up for grabs. Losing the productivity of Caroline Steele will be tough, but look out for Catie May and Julia Hoffman along with incoming threats Victoria Hensh and Hannah Leubecker to challenge for playing time.
Midfield will arguably be one of the strongest positions despite the loss of Jen Giles, Erica Evans and Meghan Siverson. Rising senior Hannah Warther and rising junior Grace Griffin showed plenty of strength during the 2019 campaign and will only continue to get better before next spring. The rising sophomore trio of Sarah Ayer, Hannah Glaros and Kennedy Lynch all saw playing time in 2019 and could jump into a larger role in 2020 despite still being underclassmen.
One of the strongest points of the Maryland program in 2019 was its defense, which returns stars Meghan Doherty and Lizzie Colson. Losing the production of two-time Big Ten Defender of the Year and 2019 IWLCA National Defender of the Year Julia Braig will be difficult, but those who have been waiting in the wings could rise to the occasion. Fellow rising seniors Andrea McTaggart, Natalie Miller and Victoria L’Insalata could work their way onto the field in 2020 after minimal roles so far in their careers.
In goal, it’ll be hard to get used to not having reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Megan Taylor. Rising sophomore Maddie McSally was the clear No. 2 behind Taylor in 2019, seeing action in seven games and allowing just eight goals across over 115 minutes of play. Rising junior Madison Hine will still be waiting in the wings and incoming freshman Emily Sterling from John Carroll will provide more depth at the position.
For Maryland women’s lacrosse, the goal is simply to uphold the program’s past both on and off of the field. It is expected that the Terrapins make the NCAA Tournament and push for another national championship. Reese and her staff worked some magic with game-planning to take down Northwestern and Boston College in the Final Four, so there is no doubt that the team will play to its strengths and make another run.