COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland women’s lacrosse program will look to cap its incredible Atlantic Coast Conference reign by notching an unprecedented sixth straight conference title while searching for a sixth straight final four appearance in 2014.
Head coach Cathy Reese, who was tabbed the ACC Coach of the Year for a sixth time in 2013, will look to some new faces to lead the squad in 2014 after graduating key starters in all four positions including All-Americans and US National Team products Alex Aust, Iliana Sanza and Katie Schwarzmann.
“We have a very versatile team this season with a lot of players who will fill multiple roles for us,” Reese said. “It’s going to be both challenging and exciting to utilize our depth because we have so many players who are not set in certain positions.”
The Terps once again boasted one of the top recruiting classes in the nation and coupled with the return of playmakers Brooke Griffin, Beth Glaros and Taylor Cummings and defenders Shanna Brady, Megan Douty and Alice Mercer, there’s plenty of reason to get excited for Maryland’s final ACC campaign before trekking to the Big Ten in 2015.
“The ACC has a completely different look this season with the addition of Syracuse and Notre Dame,” Reese said. “The ACC tournament will also change with every team playing a first round game.”
Although there are both subtle and drastic changes occurring all around them, Reese’s mantra remains the same as she enters her eighth season with the Terps.
“We want to work hard and get better every day,” Reese said. “We are very young but, with that being said, we have a lot of solid leaders. We are going to ask a lot out of our upperclassmen with 10 freshmen on the roster. So far I think we’ve seen some great team chemistry and we have a good mix. Our test is going to be how this group comes together over the course of the season.”
Maryland boasted one of the highest-scoring attacks in the country a year ago, posting a massive 507 points and averaging nearly 15 goals per game. Returning to help facilitate that offense is Brooke Griffin, a redshirt junior who boasted 49 goals and 24 assists in 2013. Junior Kristen Lamon and sophomore Halle Majorana also provided Maryland with added offensive firepower notching 25 and 23 goals, respectively.
“Brooke will be our main facilitator on the attack and we will really look for her to lead from that position,” Reese said. “Kristen and Halle gained a lot of experience from last season and will help us again in the attack.”
Freshman Bairre Reilly is one of Maryland’s top newcomers at the attacker position. Senior Mary Angstadt, junior Taylor Salandra, sophomore Caitlin Crouse and rookie Caroline Wannen will all add depth to the position.
Maryland’s midfield is lining up yet again to be one of the nation’s best. Starters Taylor Cummings, Kelly McPartland and Beth Glaros return to the field in 2014 after combining for 95 goals and 146 draw controls last season. Cummings was tabbed to Inside Lacrosse’s Preseason National Player of the Year Watch List, McPartland enters her third season as a starter and Glaros joins Griffin as team captains.
“Our midfield is strong. We are returning Taylor, who is a dynamic and exciting player who will be on the draw again,” Reese said. “We are looking forward to having Kelly back in the midfield and Beth will be a senior captain for us.”
Other players who will see significant action in the midfield include Erin Collins, Jen Mendez, Mattie Meredith, and Bryn Boucher. Watch for freshmen sensations Zoe Stukenberg and Morgan Torggler to make an immediate impact as well.
Another strong position for the Terps will be at the defensive end of the field where Maryland returns three starters including Shanna Brady and Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans Megan Douty and Alice Mercer.
“I think the combination we are going to have with them on defense is going to bring out the best in all three of them. Alice is going to be a big transition player, super athletic and super fast. Douty and Shanna will be solid crease players who anchor the defense.”
Junior Casey Pepperman and freshman Nadine Hadnagy put together good fall campaigns and will compete for the fourth defensive slot along with senior Annie Farrell and sophomore Molly Fleming who benefited from seeing action as defenders in 2013.
“We have a solid core of defenders and also a lot of very good midfielders this year so it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” Reese said.
With the graduation of Kasey Howard, Maryland will have a battle for the starting goalie spot with redshirt junior Abbey Clipp and freshman Emily Kift in the mix.Clipp boasts a technical-style in the cage while Kift is an active goalie who likes to take chances.
“We really have the benefit of having two goalies with completely different styles.” Reese said. “They both came off of great fall seasons. We’re going to try right off the bat to give both players quite a bit of playing time.”