Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese was adamant last Saturday’s win over Syracuse wasn’t a complete victory. Despite defeating a top-five opponent by double digits, the 10th-year leader said the Terps didn’t maximize their potential.
“We turned the ball over too much,” she said after the game.
The No. 1 Terps (6-0) committed a season-high 20 turnovers against the Orange, five more than their previous top mark. Reese doesn’t want that to happen again.
So, her squad is emphasizing ball security in preparation for its Big Ten opener against Johns Hopkins on Sunday at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
“We’re just kind of focusing on little details for things,” Reese said. “We turned the ball over a lot on Saturday, more than we would have liked to. We’re just kind of working on tightening things up in our transition game and making sure we’re taking care of the ball as we get it into our offensive end of the field.”
Reese said the Terps tend to rush transition opportunities, making them prone to losing possession. When they get into a rhythm on offense or get a stop on defense, she said her players attempt to move the ball too fast in all areas of the field.
If they can take a deep breath and work to find the right pass or shot, she said the Terps will improve. Plus, the team is still adjusting to playing its first season with a 90-second shot clock.
Though Maryland’s opponents have committed seven more turnovers than it has, Saturday’s game served as a warning for better control.
“You notice different things at different times,” Reese said. “Syracuse really pressured hard and swarmed the ball. They were swinging all over the place, so it was something where we need to recognize and understand that the pressure is coming and make sure that we’re taking care of it.”
Defender Nadine Hadnagy is often the one to clear possession from Maryland’s defensive third, and she admitted the role has required some change because the Terps have a tweaked approach.
Hadnagy noted former defenders Alice Mercer and Megan Douty as examples of recent players who had the speed to run the ball to offense. This season, the team is relying more on passing, which has led to some fumbles. But, Hadnagy said, the Terps have “definitely been getting better.”
“In years past, we’ve had other people who were willing to just run,” Hadnagy said. “This year, we’re not as fortunate with that, so we’re going to step it up in other areas and help each other out a lot more.”
Midfielder Zoe Stukenberg is another player involved in defensive stops and pushing the ball up the field. She believes the Terps can quell the turnover rate if she and the other midfielders can lend more help to Hadnagy and the defense.
Stukenberg feels the Terps sometimes become complacent after making a stop, but “your job on defense is not done until the ball is safely in an attacker’s stick.”
“Our defenders do a really spectacular job of clearing the ball, and we kind of leave it to them,” Stukenberg said. “But in this coming week, we’ll look to help them out and make sure that all seven of us who are a part of that defensive stop are all working with the same effort and intensity to get the ball down the field safely.”