Since Cathy Reese took over as head coach of the Maryland women’s lacrosse in 2007, the program has transformed into a powerhouse of the sports world once again.
In the 2010s, Reese led the Terps to five national championships, three separate national title game berths and two additional Final Four appearances. Add all these accolades from the past decade together and you get a display of dominance not often seen in sports.
Maryland has cemented itself as the pinnacle of success at the collegiate level, but what does the new decade have in store for the Terps?
Significant turnover faces the team at the turn of the decade, quite the opposite from the switch from the 2000s to the 2010s.
The three top goal scorers from last season — Jen Giles, Erica Evans and Caroline Steele — and the first ever goalie to win the Tewaaraton Award in Megan Taylor have since graduated. The void left by those seniors will be a season-long storyline for the Terps, but Reese believes her team is ready to step up.
Senior attacker Brindi Griffin is ready to fill in those shoes for the 2020 season. Griffin had a solid junior season, but her coming out party came when the Terps needed it most.
Griffin tallied a career-high six goals against Northwestern in the national semifinal before recording a hat trick in the national championship game against Boston College.
With Griffin being named a captain for this season as well as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, there are quite lofty expectations surrounding her new leadership role.
“She’s got a great game sense,” Reese said. “I think it’s been cool to watch her development as a leader over the past couple years.”
Griffin’s partner in crime on the offensive side of the field is senior attacker Kali Hartshorn, who is nearing Maryland history as the new decade commences.
Following a stellar season in which Hartshorn won 137 draw controls, the 2019 Tewaaraton finalist trails mid-2010s standout Taylor Cummings by 121 draw controls on the all-time Maryland leaderboard.
Now that senior defender Lizzie Colson is lost for the season with a torn ACL, the chemistry void between Colson and Hartshorn may take some getting used to, but Hartshorn believes the team’s ability to click as the season progresses — especially when incorporating the first year players — will pay its dividends in draw control situations.
Looking to spearhead the vacancy on offense are two nationally ranked newcomers for the defending champs. Freshman attacker Hannah Leubecker (No. 9) and freshman midfielder Shaylan Ahearn (No. 4) will hope to alleviate the offensive openings from last seasons.
The new look No. 1 Terps took some time getting used to playing with one another, but the offense began to click as Saturday’s game wore on, leading to a 19-6 victory over George Mason.
Hartshorn and Griffin each recorded hat tricks in the win, demonstrating their leadership qualities throughout the game. The duo’s chemistry rubbed off on the rest of the team, especially the freshmen introducing themselves to the Division I lacrosse scene for the first time.
Libby May scored two goals and Leubecker netted one, while Ahearn and defender Emma Schettig fit well into the flow of the game.
“There’s a lot of energy and excitement,” Catie May, who chipped in four goals of her own Saturday, said after the game. “I’m really excited to see whats comes from here.”
Starting as the No. 1 ranked team in the country, there have been major points of emphasis established in the weeks of preparation for the upcoming season. As the team transitions from one decade to the next, distinguishing a sense of selflessness and remaining humble have been priorities for the team as they look to repeat.
“One of the key words for me when I talk about this team is selfless,” Reese said. “They’re all out there doing everything for each other and that’s what you want as coaches.”
“Everything we do is for something greater than ourselves,” Griffin added.
In regards to remaining humble, Reese wants to take things year-by-year, game-by-game and practice-by-practice when dealing with the expectations of that championship pedigree.
“As we open this season I think it’s kind of a blank canvas and we got to see where it takes us,” Reese said. “Looking at 2020 we’ve got a great group with strong chemistry and a lot of balance, but we got to look at things one year at a time.”