May 15, 2012
By: Ginny Glover, Maryland Athletics Media Relations
The Maryland women's lacrosse team is always turning heads. Whether winning ACC titles and national championships, earning Tewaaraton honors or bringing in some of the country's best recruits, the Terps make a splash.
This season, head coach Cathy Reese has the lacrosse world spinning once again. Reese is starting four freshmen - Kelly McPartland, Shanna Brady, Megan Douty, and Brooke Griffin - a rare move in Maryland program history.
"It's been really fun with the four of them," Reese said. "In some way, all four of them are back on our defensive end, two of them being defenders and the other two being midfielders."
In total, Maryland has 11 freshmen on its roster. Reese has started four freshmen every game this season. McPartland and Griffin have teamed up to record 71 goals in 2012. Douty and Brady have helped a sturdy Terrapin defense limit opponents to a mere 7.81 goals per game.
Despite those auspicious stats, for many student-athletes, making the leap from high school to college is huge. From a heavier practice schedule, offseason training, study halls, dorm life, or diner food, it's definitely an adjustment process. Fortunately, McPartland, Brady, Douty and Griffin found a support system of 19 upperclassmen to help them acclimate to the new lifestyle.
"The team is probably the most welcoming group of people," McPartland said. "They made it so much easier. If it wasn't for them, I would have been so much more timid."
"Everyone on the team has been just amazing, they make you feel right at home," Douty said. "They've been supportive since the beginning. They would include us in anything off of the field, so we have really good chemistry."
Chemistry is key on and off the field for a tight knit women's lacrosse team like the Terps. Reese commends her upperclassmen for welcoming the rookies with open arms.
"The upperclassmen have done a really great job welcoming this group," Reese said. "They've really embraced them and welcomed them into our Terp family."
One of the biggest challenges for Maryland's `Frosh Four' is the faster style of play in college lacrosse. The speed and intensity of high school and club lacrosse can't begin to rival that of the college game.
Griffin, who was named WomensLax.com Rookie of the Week after scoring three goals and adding three assists against UMass in her first NCAA tournament action last weekend, found a large contrast in the play at Maryland.
"College is such a faster game and it takes a lot of getting used to," Griffin, who served a redshirt season in 2011 after suffering a knee injury, said. "In high school the game was a lot slower so you could get away with more stuff. In college it's much more aggressive and fast-paced."
College lacrosse also requires an enhanced knowledge of the game.
"It definitely requires more knowledge of the game, especially on defense," Brady said. "I had a hard time with it at first. Knowing slides and seeing the field from a different perspective are really important when you play in college."
Reese agrees that the learning process plays an integral role in the development of a young student-athlete.
"It's just been really fun to build our defense, watch them grow and adjust to the college game," Reese said. "I think they've done an outstanding job. Every step of the way, they're playing as hard as they can and learning as they go. It's been a really great experience for all of us."
The `Frosh Four' and the third-seeded Terps will battle No. 6 Loyola at noon on Saturday at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex for a chance to land in the final four.