For the Maryland women’s lacrosse team, a final four appearance in 2018 was relatively routine. The Terps were the reigning national champions, and led by a strong group of seniors — including all-time leading goalscorer Megan Whittle — they seemed ready to go back-to-back.

But Maryland’s streak of title game appearances ended at five, as the team suffered an upset loss to Boston College in the NCAA tournament semifinals.

Heading into 2019, the Terps are the No. 2 squad in the country, despite losing Whittle and seven other seniors. Reese hopes the upcoming season is defined by the blossoming of new stars instead of the loss of old ones as the team begin the hunt for another championship.

“There are always these great players that have had such phenomenal careers, and Megan Whittle is no different,” Reese said. “But I don’t think our attempt is to replace her — I think it’s to remold our 2019 team to figure out what our strengths are with this group.”

[Read more: Maryland women’s lacrosse leads nation with 9 preseason All-Americans]

Reese certainly has the necessary talent at her disposal to do just that. Maryland led the nation for the second straight year with nine preseason All-Americans, including three first-team selections.

Even with the eight seniors, the Terps returns nine starters to a lineup that was an inexplicable 14-minute scoring drought short of the title game. James Madison, which took home the championship, returns just six.

Maryland will look to adapt a new style this season following the graduations of Whittle and forward Taylor Hensh. While there are still question marks on attack as to who will make up for the 119 goals lost between the two, Reese figures the Terps will have an improved midfield and stronger defense.

Defender Julia Braig and goalie Megan Taylor project to anchor a defense that Reese said has already improved from last season.

“We need to play more lockdown defense where we’re limiting opponents better than we have,” Reese said. “That’s something collectively we’ve gotten better on.”

[Read more: James Madison and UNC highlight Maryland women’s lacrosse’s 2019 schedule]

Graduate transfer Erica Evans, a three-time MAAC midfielder of the year at Canisius College , brings experience to a midfield that features All-American Jen Giles . The duo — combined with sophomore standout Grace Griffin — gives Maryland one of the most well-rounded two-way midfields in the nation.

While the Terps don’t have a goal-scorer of Whittle’s acclaim, the variety of different talents available should help Maryland create a dynamic offense from midfield or attack. They also return senior Caroline Steele, a preseason All-American, who contributed 59 goals last year.

Maryland hopes to create an offense that incorporates all its pieces. And with dynamic midfielders and talented returning attackers, the Terps shouldn’t have too much trouble getting on the board.

“Everyone has different strengths and one of our big focuses this year, especially on the offensive end, is playing to our strengths,” Reese said. “What are we good at? When we’re looking at this group, we’re trying to play to this team’s strengths.”

The strengths will be tested by a rigorous schedule. The Terps play some of the top teams in the nation, including a trip to reigning national champions James Madison along with a flight south to face Florida.

Maryland also hosts North Carolina, the only team to defeat the Terps in regular season play last year.

“We love the big competition, we love the big games,” Braig said. “We’re all really looking forward to it.”

The Terps will face five of IWLCA’s end-of-season top-10 schools. The level of competition is nothing new for a team that has appeared in the final four for 10 straight years. This year, with a new offense leading the line after Whittle’s graduation, Maryland could make it 11.

“Obviously,” Braig said, “we hope to keep winning and keep being awesome.”