March 1, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - They say there's no place like home. For the Maryland women's lacrosse team, the old adage could not ring more true.
Maryland is in very elite company, following Ohio State men's tennis, Florida women's tennis, Stanford women's basketball and Kentucky men's basketball with the fifth-longest active home winning streak in all of NCAA Division I athletics. The Terps have won 35 consecutive home games dating back to the beginning of the 2009 season.
So the question is what makes the Terps so great in College Park?
Maryland = Lax Country
There's no denying the rich tradition of the game of lacrosse in the state of Maryland and the Terps pride themselves on keeping it that way every time they step foot on the field.
"I think lacrosse is very well known in the state and a lot of people from Maryland go here," Black said. "It's all about the atmosphere and these banners with all our national championships. At a lot of other colleges, lacrosse is not really well known. Here it is known for their guys and women's lacrosse."
Cathy Reese, who has been a part of the Maryland lacrosse program as a student-athlete, assistant and head coach, also believes that state pride plays a role.
"We are lacrosse in Maryland at Maryland," Reese said. "The environment around our games is super exciting."
The premier, state-of-the-art home of both women's lacrosse and field hockey seats 1,400 spectators and opened in 2003. The venue has a water-based Astroturf 12 playing surface. Click the link above for a 360 tour of the FH & Lax Complex.
"I love playing here," senior attacker Karri Ellen Johnson said. "The atmosphere with the field being so tight in it makes everything so friendly. The whole environment...I love playing in it. I love our turf, it's good to me."
Typical Gameday at the Complex
When Maryland plays at home, in addition to wins, there are three other central themes to a gameday in College Park - bagels, dancing and team camaraderie.
"It always starts at the Bagel Place," Johnson said. "I have some pregame rituals at home that I do. Then we have a bumping car ride, some locker room dancing, pregame and then get ready for the game."
For most Terps, the pregame agenda starts at home with their teammates who are also roommates.
"I wake up with my roommates Bria (Phillips) and Kasey (Howard) and put on some music," senior attacker Kristy Black said. "Then we go to Bagel Place and go home to mentally get ready."
While Reese was hesitant to divulge too much information on Maryland's pregame setup, she did discuss some of the action in the Terps' locker room at the complex.
"This is some top secret information here," Reese said with a smile. "It always starts off with our pregame meal which I know everyone enjoys. Then we head over to the complex and there's lots of music in the locker room, lots of dancing and laughing and entertainment. We get ready with the pregame speech and ready to execute and get down to business. Then we have our warm-up, have some excitement on the field and take care of business."
Don't discredit all the home victories by assuming the Terps regularly compile a fluff schedule. A total of 17 nationally ranked foes have fallen in the land of the Terrapins during the current streak, including 11 ranked in the top 10 nationally.
"It doesn't matter who we play," Reese said. "All that matters is that we focus on Maryland lacrosse and doing the best we can do to demonstrate what we're all about every second we play."
Maryland student-athletes and coaches also point to the Terps' great fan base as a reason for their success at home.
"The Field Hockey & Lacrosse stadium has all the fans sitting right up close to the field," Reese said. "When we can pack this place, there is an energy and level of excitement that is really contagious and something our players can feed off of."
There's also the fan support postgame.
"Our parents are usually setting up the big Maryland tent like three hours before the game, getting ready for the tailgate," Black said.
"I love the tailgates," Johnson said. "If I'm being honest, it's one of my favorite parts."
The Terps hope to continue their current streak when they play host to yet another highly ranked opponent when No. 6 Virginia visits the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex at 7 p.m. on Friday.