As coach Cathy Reese put it, the Maryland women’s lacrosse entered this week with only one certainty: at noon on Sunday, it would play in light jerseys at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.
The Terps won’t know their first NCAA tournament opponent until Friday evening, when unseeded Denver and High Point face off in College Park.
But that doesn’t bother a group that entered the year with sky-high expectations and has stressed keeping an insular focus as it navigated one of the nation’s toughest schedules.
With a long week to prepare, the No. 1-seed Terps have kept practices simple rather than implement intricate plays or complicated strategies as it begins its national title defense.
“We have such talented players out there that sometimes there can be a tendency to get a little ahead of ourselves,” Reese said. “We just want to again bring it back and just play simple. Keep things simple, let’s move the ball, let’s attack the cage and let’s finish when we shoot.”
Reese said she has focused on core skills such as ball movement, clearing the ball and strong one-on-one defense with her team all season.
It’s a strategy that has paid off, with Reese leading her group of 25 Under Armour All-Americans and a plethora of award-winning players to Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.
“Cathy always says that we don’t need to be on Sportscenter Top 10, like we just need to score goals. We just need to win games,” defender Lizzie Colson said. “Starting with the fundamentals is important because it helps us all stay on the baseline and work really well together, as opposed to working for ourselves.”
The Terps said they will watch the first-round matchup between Denver and High Point, but given their No. 1 seed, 18-1 record and dominant 21-12 win over Penn State in the Big Ten tournament championship, the team isn’t terribly concerned with the outcome.
“At the end of the day, it’s always Maryland lacrosse,” Whittle said. “I know I say that a lot, but it doesn’t matter who steps out on the field as long, as we’re playing our game we should be able to be dominant and do what we do.”