Maryland Women’s Lacrosse HC Cathy Reese: Lone Loss Was Positive ‘Learning Experience’

The Maryland women’s lacrosse team has only lost one game so far this year.

Turns out, it was a pretty important lesson.

The Terps were 8-0 entering their March 26 game against James Madison, now ranked No. 10 in the nation by Inside Lacrosse. They lost, 13-8, to the Dukes, who outscored the Terps, 7-2, in the second half. Maryland struggled to slow down star attacker Isabella Peterson, who scored five goals to lead her team to victory.

But the Terps ended up rattling off nine straight wins after the James Madison loss, winning the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships in the process. So what did they learn by falling to the Dukes at home?

“It challenged us to really reevaluate some things and see where we are and recognize that we need to make sure [when] we step on the field, we’re trying to win each play every play for the full 60 minutes,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said on Glenn Clark Radio May 10. “We can’t have these lapses like that. We’ve got a really young team, so I thought that was a good learning experience for us and it really kind of helped us as we headed into the second half of the season and then into the Big Ten tournament as well.”

Most recently, the Terps defeated Johns Hopkins and Rutgers in the Big Ten tournament by a combined score of 32-14. They earned the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face the Hopkins-Duke winner on Sunday, May 15. The favorite to win it all is No. 1 seed North Carolina (18-0).

Maryland, of course, has had a wonderful season in its own right. The Terps have outscored opponents, 285-136, so far this year. The offense is powered by graduate attacker Aurora Cordingley, a graduate transfer from Johns Hopkins who has posted 111 points, already the fifth-best single-season mark in program history. Junior attackers Hannah Leubecker (53 goals) and Libby May (51 goals) are also key contributors.

The defense is keyed by Big Ten Goaltender of the Year Emily Sterling and Big Ten Defender of the Year Abby Bosco. Sterling is allowing 7.52 goals per game and has a .552 save percentage. Bosco, a grad transfer from Penn, has picked up 55 ground balls and caused 22 turnovers while triggering the Terps’ transition game.

“For us, I think as we’ve gone through this season, we’ve become much better defensively, playing as a unit,” Reese said. “We’re just really working together well. We’re communicating well. We’re seeing each other well. We’re helping well. We’re doing it together. Emily Sterling’s making some phenomenal saves in the cage.”

Reese was particularly proud of her team’s second-half performance against Rutgers in the Big Ten title game. The Terps outscored the Scarlet Knights, 11-1, in the half.

“Knowing that we can put up those numbers and do that in 30 minutes of lacrosse, if we can remain consistent that’s going to be key,” Reese said. “We talk about this stuff all the time and they know. I just want them to continue to build their confidence and believe in themselves and just know that they’re awesome and capable of anything they put their mind to.”

Maryland has won 15 national championships, the most recent of which came in 2019 when the Terps toppled Boston College at Johns Hopkins as part of a 22-1 season. Only seven current players were on the team that won it all in 2019: graduate defender Torie Barretta, senior midfielder Sydney Bender, graduate midfielder Grace Griffin, senior attacker Julia Hoffman, senior goalie Maddie McSally, senior defender Maddie Sanchez and senior midfielder Darby Welsh.

The Final Four will again be held at Homewood Field this year. How do the Terps get back there?

“For us, we need to win four games. We don’t have to beat 28 other teams,” Reese said. “The bracket comes out and you’re hearing all of these great teams that are announced and being celebrated. At the end of the day, we have no control over who we play. We just have control over how we play.”

For more from Reese, listen to the full interview here:

See Also:
For Aurora Cordingley And Maryland Women’s Lacrosse, The Little Things Mean A Lot
Women’s Lacrosse Goalies Around Maryland Earning Their Keep One Save At A Time

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Luke Jackson

See all posts by Luke Jackson. Follow Luke Jackson on Twitter at @luke_jackson10