Q & A with Terps' Defense

April 20, 2010

ACC Women's Lacrosse Championship Central

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Lacrosse Championship just around the corner, sat down with Maryland's defensive unit to talk about the Terps' potent offensive attack and what it takes to be a shutdown defender in the best conference in the land.

Starters Abby Caso, Karissa Taylor and Brittany Poist have helped guide Maryland to a solid 14-1 record in 2010 while holding opposing offenses to a mere 7.07 goals per match. Name three personality traits that make for a good defender:

KT: Good communicator, Aggressive poise, The ability to react and learn positively from mistakes

AC: Team-oriented, Directive, Multi-tasker

BP: Aggressive, Intense, Quick to forget mistakes Name three physical traits that make for a good defender:

AC: Quick feet, Loud Voice, Strong

BP: Strong, Quick feet, Good field sense

KT: Fast speed, Good stick work, Ability to read a play as it unfolds With your offense scoring so many goals, do you ever think your defensive unit gets overshadowed?:

BP: Yes I do, but our offense deserves the recognition they get. They are one of the best in the country and part of the reason they are so good is because we work them so hard in practice. I also think that we play a huge role in causing us to score by getting the ball back to them. I think there is a chain reaction all over the field when something good happens, whether it is a goal or a caused turnover. We all feed off of each other and our job as defenders is to make the rest of our team look good by getting the ball back to them. No one plays defense because they want glory or attention. Defenders play because they love the game and they love to lay all they've got on the line for their team.

KT: Yes, but our defense is what holds our attack together. I think it is a sport that cannot be the absolute best there is without a tough attack and defense working together. I think our attack deserves all the attention they get considering we strive to be the best attack in the country. But we also strive to be the best defense that any team will ever face. However, I do feel that just because we are not scoring all the goals, we should get recognized for the awesome defensive stops and turnovers we create. If you could change one rule in lacrosse, what would it be?:

AC: I would add a stalling rule similar to men's lacrosse. In women's lacrosse, the offense is free to stand back and hold the ball for the entire 60 minutes if they choose to. I think that this is terrible because why play the game if you are not going to attack and try to score goals? I would add a warning like in men's that if the team with the ball is not making an attempt to go to goal, then they are given a warning where they have to still attack and cannot just hold the ball. I think this rule would keep the sport moving and fast and exciting.

BP: I would make it so that defenders could actually hit the attackers. I'd like to be able to take out attackers like the guys can. It'd make it a lot more fun for defenders if we got to really hit the attackers like we want to.

KT: Coming from a defender, I would have to say the rule of contact. I think our team has such an aggressive side that we have to show it in a controlled and modest way. Knowing my teammates, we are a lot more physical than we can actually show against other teams and it would be nice if we could put our full aggression out there every once in a while. Right now, you guys are fairly veteran group in the back, but you do have some young stars getting action like Iliana Sanza and Melissa Diepold. How do you think their progress is coming along?:

AC: I think these girls are doing so well for them only being freshmen. It is a huge transition from high school to college and there are so many things to learn and techniques to change about the way you play defense. I know that I took more than a year to learn the new techniques and to feel confident on the field. I am still working on it actually! And I think these girls are showing more and more confidence each day out there. I think their hard work and commitment is definitely showing on the field and they are going to be a huge asset to our defense this year and in years to come.

KT: I love the idea of having Brittany Poist and Abby Caso on my side, but the youngsters are doing such an awesome job. They are really stepping outside of their comfort zone and putting it all on the line which gives me, as an older player, huge confidence. Every practice and game is fun just knowing that when they come in they are giving all they have and really working to be the best defense in the country no matter what their age is. Karissa Taylor is one of the final 25 nominees for the Tewaaraton. What would it be like for a defender to win the prestigious award?:

AC: I think it would be a huge success if a defender won the Tewaaraton. The nature of statistics is that they acknowledge the success of attackers for scoring goals or assisting in goals, while pointing out the negatives of letting in goals for defenders. The way that people look at successful lacrosse players should not rely just on statistics and so I think this step of having a defender win the Tewarraton Award would show this. I think Karissa deserves the nomination for the award and definitely deserves to be considered because she has worked hard and is a huge reason why our team has been so successful this season and in previous seasons.

BP: It would be great if a defender were to win the award because it would show that the lacrosse world is truly recognizing the hard work defenders do. For Karissa to get named in-and- of-itself is an amazing thing and she has worked hard her whole career to deserve that kind of recognition. It is sad that Karissa is one of two or three other defenders on the entire list full of attackers and midfielders. Maybe if a defender were to win it, it would pave the way for a better representation of defenders on the list in the future. Your defense has been so successful this year at shutting down some of the top scoring offenses in the country. Can you share any keys to that success?:

BP: When we are successful: We force out. We help each other when we need it. We not only have a first and second slide, but a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. We work hard to give the other team one shot, one opportunity by getting ground balls. We follow the game plan that our coaches have set up for us. We communicate with each other. We show respect to every team we face by playing to the best of our ability every inch, every second. We enjoy shutting down any and every opponent we face. We love to hunt in packs.

AC: I think that our success on defense has been in our working together and supporting each other. Each of us has our own strengths that are unique to the defense. We use these strengths to support each other and combined we create a great team to support our midfielders on the defensive end. Our mindset is that when we stay focused and work together effectively on defense, we can hold any team to very few goals, no matter who they are.

KT: I can honestly say we just have so much fun playing together and when we are on "our" game we are the best defense in the country. When we have each others' backs on the field, communicating and sliding not only from the first person, but through the third and fourth slide, we can stop anyone. We have the best coaching staff teaching us and a full team that pushes us, support us and goalies that have our backs every second we step on the field.

Maryland, and its sturdy defensive corps, will face the winner of the Virginia/Virginia Tech quarterfinal game on Friday at 5 p.m. at Ludwig Field for a chance to head to the ACC championship game Sunday. For more information on this weekend's tournament, please follow the link above.