Season Preview : Defense

Feb. 12, 2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Leading up to No. 2 Maryland's opener Sunday against Richmond, will preview the Terps' highly-anticipated 2010 season. Today's preview will take a look at Maryland's tenacious defense.

Maryland's defense returns a year older and a year wiser after holding opponents to an average of 9.11 goals per game in 2009.

"Defensively, we were looking to step up the tempo this year," head coach Cathy Reese said. "We want to limit opportunities that we give other teams. We are also emphasizing good communication, supporting each other and looking for our defense to spark fast break opportunities."

The backbone of the Terrapin defense consists of senior starters Karissa Taylor and Katie Gallagher. Both are three-year starters and bring confidence and a solid veteran presence to the back.

"Karissa's got speed, hustle and heart and is key to our transition game," Reese said of the All-American. "She is a good leader on the field and we are thrilled to have her in that captain role once again in 2010.

"Katie is also a leader for us and one of our smartest low defenders. She communicates well, sees the field and at the end of the day is just very, very tough."

The Terps also return starting defender Brittany Poist. Poist transferred to Maryland from Louisville last season and found great success as a member of the Terrapin defense.

"Brittany is a speedy defender with great takeaway abilities," Reese said. "She has good speed in getting the ball from one end of the field to the other."

Another steady force for Maryland is senior Abby Caso. Caso is a smart, solid player that Reese is anticipating will serve as a mentor for the team's younger defenders.

"Abby is one of the hardest workers on the team," Reese said. "She is consistently pushing people around her to be better. She works hard on the field and off the field in everything she does. She's very disciplined in what she does."

Megan McGarvey, Sara Cooper, and Elizabeth Hamilton round out Maryland's returning defenders. McGarvey and Cooper have played two years for Reese while Hamilton adds extra depth in the back after picking up vital experience as a rookie for the Terps in 2009.

"Meg is a positive, hard worker, who is constantly enthusiastic," Reese said. "Sara is an athletic, fit player who is a good one-on-one defender and hard worker.

"Liz has really come into her own this year," Reese said. "She has been able to demonstrate confidence, composure and discipline on both ends of the field."

Athletic newcomers bring depth to the 2010 defense, including Iliana Sanza, Melissa Diepold, Sam Barber, and Kristen McAfee. Sanza was a three-sport star at St. Paul's School for Girls, excelling in soccer and basketball in addition to lacrosse. Diepold also thrived in three sports and was a three-year captain at Perry Hall High School, and Barber racked up numerous honors as a member of Robinson Secondary's field hockey and lacrosse squads. McAfee adds to her work load as she will now double up as both a women's soccer and lacrosse player for the Terps.

"Iliana is a great asset to the future of this program," Reese said. "She reads plays well and comes up with a lot of interceptions. She anticipates very well and knows where to be.

"Melissa is very fast and athletic. She's learning to use her speed to her advantage and is going to help us on our transition game. Sam is a good, solid one-on-one defender who will only get better as she gains confidence. Kristen is a dual sport athlete that is very athletic and strong. She is also a great communicator."