The new look Maryland women’s lacrosse team wasted no time removing any sense of doubt in its No. 1 preseason ranking as the team cruised to a 19-6 victory over George Mason last Saturday.
Seniors Kali Hartshorn and Brindi Griffin set the tempo on offense, while freshman defender Emma Schettig received high praise for her all-around defensive effort in her debut for the Terps.
“She came out confident and ready to play,” senior captain Megan Doherty said. “I can easily rely on her to have my back out there, so I thought she did great.”
Schettig and the rest of the Terps will have to step up their game for their return to College Park, where they will take on the No. 12 Florida Gators. Maryland will also be making its return to its true home at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, which was closed for renovations in 2019.
“This is where we practice everyday, so I think the girls are fired up to get back to their facility, their field and start the season off right,” head coach Cathy Reese said.
The top-15 showdown will take place on Feb. 15 at noon ET and will be broadcasted on BTN Plus.
Florida Gators (1-0, 0-0 AAC)
2019 record: 14-7, 5-0 AAC
Head coach Amanda O’Leary is entering her 11th season in Gainesville and will look towards a 10th straight NCAA Tournament berth. O’Leary — who previously worked as an assistant coach for the Terps — has been the head coach at Florida since its inaugural season in 2010. in 2019, O’Leary led Florida to a 14-7 record, with the season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by the third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. The Gators’ coaching staff also hosts a familiar face in Nadine Hadnagy, a three-time national champion with the Terps.
Players to know
Junior midfielder Shannon Kavanagh (No. 17) has a plethora of accolades to her name with only two full seasons of collegiate lacrosse behind her. In her sophomore season, she was named an IWLCA Second Team All-American, AAC Midfielder of the Year and surpassed 100 career goals — the second fastest player to do so in program history. She was a swiss army knife for the Gators last year — tallying 95 points and a team-high 93 draw controls — and has already started 2020 off strong with a four goal showing against then-No. 18 Colorado.
Redshirt junior midfielder Brianna Harris (No. 20) showed up in Florida’s first game against the Buffaloes. Harris netted five goals and led the team in draw controls with seven. This stat line is no surprise however, as the redshirt junior notched an impressive 43 point total in only six starts in 2019. An injury in her sophomore season warranted the redshirt designation for Harris, but the Annapolis native should be a force for the Gators as she looks to make up for lost time.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Sarah Reznick (No. 18) was the No. 1 goalkeeper and a top-10 overall recruit in the Class of 2018, before redshirting her freshman season. Reznick had started in goal for her high school in Long Beach, New York, since the seventh grade, so her skill is undeniable. Her first collegiate action didn’t go smoothly, but nonetheless the former top recruit started her career with a win. With decorated Florida goalkeeper Haley Hicklen gone due to graduation, Reznick is poised to breakout in goal for the Gators.
Draw controls. The Gators dominated the draw controls against Colorado, outpacing the Buffaloes, 17-6. In the early going of the 2020 season, Florida leads the nation in draw control percentage, winning 73.9 percent of draws. This early control of the possession set Florida up with many opportunities — the team had 32 shots. Though she only had two draw controls against Colorado, Kavanagh continued her program-record streak of consecutive games with a draw control (35).
Unfamiliar starting lineup. Much like Maryland, Florida lost a ton of valuable players from the previous season. The Gators lost seven starters from 2019, including leading goal scorer Lindsey Ronbeck. Not to mention the introduction of Reznick at goalkeeper, who, despite her top recruit status, is still new to the collegiate lacrosse scene. Kavanagh and Harris look to be the leaders for the Gators, but with so much roster turnover, Florida could run into trouble against a team of Maryland’s caliber.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Terps address its draw control shortcomings? The main area lacking for Maryland last week was its inconsistency with draw controls. Even though Hartshorn led the team with 137 draw controls last season, the Terps struggled to gain possession from the get-go against the Patriots.
“That was obviously not a good area for us in that game,” Reese said. “But fortunately the draw controls are something I do feel real confident in with our team.”
Reese said that the team will still rotate players through in order to get a feel on who will fill the shoes of Lizzie Colson and Jen Giles to help Hartshorn out when it comes to draw controls.
2. How will the defense adjust? The pace of the game is going to change in how Florida’s offense plays compared to George Mason’s long offensive possessions.
“We’re not going to be put to sleep down on defense, we’re going to be constantly on our toes,” Doherty said. “I think it’s going to be a really awesome opportunity for us to kind of put all of our aspects of defense together against a pretty good team.”
3. Can the offense stay hot? A slow start last week was erased from memory as the Terps recorded 19 goals in their win against George Mason. Junior Catie May, Hartshorn and Griffi all slammed hat tricks versus the Patriots, while seven other players found the back of the net as well. With a tougher team in the Gators awaiting, will the offense keep up the scoring?
“Just coming out on fire, foot on the gas as soon as the first draw comes out,” Griffin said.