Terrapins women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese said her team would have to adjust to a style of defense they weren’t familiar with when it faced Syracuse on the road.
Midfielder Taylor Cummings said the Orange’s distinct scheme aligns with the Terps’ style of offense, which involves “just running in front of the goal and scoring.”
Led by sophomore midfielder Taylor Hensh’s four goals, the No. 1 Terps were able to overcome Syracuse’s stout defense to top the No. 3 Orange, 14-9, at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.
“We started off a little hesitant today,” Reese said. “We really stepped it up on the offensive end. In the first half, we had trouble clearing the ball. Syracuse did a nice job pressuring us and re-defending.”
Against Hofstra last weekend, the Terps (5-0) capitalized on eight free position opportunities. And several free position shots carried the Terps late against the Orange (6-2).
Midfielder Caroline Steele’s free position shot with just more than 16 minutes left gave the Terps an 8-7 advantage. Less than a minute later, midfielder Jen Giles’ shot pushed the lead to two. Plus, Cummings’ first goal of the afternoon came on a free position shot with about six minutes remaining.
Reese said she wanted to ensure Cummings was comfortable and not taking shots just for the sake of doing so.
Orange attacker Kayla Treanor ended the day with three goals, but a 4-0 Terps run prevented Syracuse from mounting a comeback after keeping the game close for most of the second period.
Defender Alice Mercer said the team spoke about only giving up one opportunity after Syracuse maintained possession for extensive periods in the opening half.
“In the first half, we weren’t getting the ground balls out or clearing successfully,” Mercer said. “In the second half, that was one of the big things we worked on. That ended up having a big difference.”
As they did against then-No. 5 North Carolina on the road, the Terps opened the game with three consecutive goals.
Hensh scored about a minute into the contest, and attacker Megan Whittle’s capitalized two minutes later pushed the team’s advantage to three.
“Sometimes they were playing a backer and I was left open a lot in the center,” Hensh said.
Syracuse wasn’t fazed by the Terps’ early offensive success, though.
Former Terp Halle Majorana and midfielder Natalie Wallon scored consecutive goals to make it a 3-2 contest.
About halfway through the first half, the Orange appeared to be in a good position to tie the game with four consecutive free position shot opportunities. Although they missed all of them, Syracuse was patient and maintained possession for most of the final 15 minutes of the half.
“We’re going to make mistakes all over the field, but we need to be smarter,” Reese said. “We need to execute better and not turn the ball over as much.”
Orange attacker Riley Donahue tied the game at four, and Treanor, who was double teamed often, scored her first goal of the day. That resulted in the Terps facing their first of two deficits.
Hensh tied the game at five before Giles scored with 14.1 seconds remaining in the opening period to give the Terps a 6-5 edge heading into intermission.
But after the break, the Terps began to pull away with the help of free-position shots. By the time Cummings completed a hat trick in the final seven minutes, the Terps had a comfortable lead.
“This showed how much potential we have on offense,” Mercer said. “It was really good to see players like Taylor Hensh and Jen Giles protecting their sticks and going all the way in.”