Early in the second half of Maryland women’s lacrosse’s season opener against George Mason, Megan Taylor showcased the skill that made her the national goalkeeper of the year in 2017.

Patriots defender Julianna Brown cut in front of the crease with a clean look at goal. Taylor made an instinctive save, nabbing the short-range shot out of the air before leisurely passing out and starting a transition attack.

Open looks such as Brown’s are cause for concern for Maryland’s highly touted defense. And while coach Cathy Reese’s squad dispatched the Patriots with relative ease, the No. 2 Terps likely won’t be able to lean on Taylor to bail them out of sticky situations down the road.

Maryland anticipates its next two foes — No. 4 Florida and No. 3 North Carolina — will offer frequent and daunting tests of the team’s vaunted defensive unit.

“Florida’s a really good team,” Reese said. “They’re fast. They’re athletic. They’re good on both ends of the field.”

[Read more: After 18 months off the field, Erica Evans had a triumphant Maryland lacrosse debut]

The Gators showed their offensive prowess in their season opener, comfortably dispatching No. 17 Colorado, 16-9. Midfielder Shannon Kavanagh scored five goals and added two assists, and attackers Lindsey Ronbeck and Grace Haus combined for seven goals.

The Terps showed some vulnerability to back-cuts, allowing four goals in the first half against the Patriots. But in the final 30 minutes, Maryland allowed just one score and tacked on seven of its own.

“We saw a lot of moments of greatness [against George Mason]. We also saw a lot of moments we can work on a little bit,” defender Julia Braig said. “We’re definitely trying to get more consistent throughout the season.”

[Read more: A balanced attack led Maryland women’s lacrosse to a season-opening win]

Maryland’s tune-up matches are over. The team is now tasked with early-season matchups against two fellow national title contenders.

And when the Terps face the Gators, they’ll be getting a taste of their own medicine — like Maryland, Florida thrives by pushing the pace in transition.

That phase could prove decisive for both squads. Against George Mason, the Terps forced 18 turnovers — including five shot-clock violations — while committing only six giveaways all game. The Gators, meanwhile, conceded possession 16 times against the Buffaloes.

The key to beating Florida may be keeping the same level of aggression on defense that forced George Mason into so many mistakes, according to midfielder Erica Evans.

“We’re just an aggressive gritty team,” Evans said. “If we turn the ball over, we’re going to work our butt’s off to get the ball back.”