Defender Meghan Doherty said that, on more than one occasion, freshman Emma Schettig has caught her by surprise with a turnover.

“I’m still playing defense on my girl and she is halfway down the field with the ball she just picked up because she’s so, so good,” Doherty said on March 4.

Returning just one defensive starter, Maryland women’s lacrosse have found a breakout star this season in Schettig.

“She’s going to break records here,” Doherty said. “She’s playing out of her mind. Every single game, she doesn’t care who is in front of her, she is going after the ball and she’s going hard all the time.”

Six games into Maryland’s (3-3) title-defending season, consistency has been its foe. But for Schettig, those issues have been largely absent, starting every game so far.

“Emma Schettig has been a phenomenal defender for us,” coach Cathy Reese said. “Her ability to find the ball on the ground is something special. You can really see that when [they] play.”

[Read more: Maryland women’s lacrosse’s Brindi Griffin, Maddie McSally earn Big Ten weekly honors]

The only freshman to start every game of the season so far, Schettig has put together an impressive stat sheet to this point.

She leads the team in ground balls (17) and is tied for most caused turnovers (9) and sits second in draw controls (16). Schettig was moved onto controls three games ago and has since given the unit a boost.

“She’s just gritty and she works hard,” said Kali Hartshorn, the anchor of the control unit. “That shows at practice and it shows in the game. She’s just overall a really consistent player.”

In her three games around the circle, she has accounted for 16 of 40 draw controls for the team. Additionally, the Terps have scored on the same possession Schettig won a draw control seven times.

Throughout the season, Reese has praised her work ethic and her ability to track down the ball. But for Schettig, it’s her team that motivates her performances.

“We always talk about playing for the people around you, the people next to you, it just kicks in when I get there,” Schettig said. “Seeing Meg [Doherty], Maddie Sanchez, anyone next to me, doing it for them rather than just for myself, it pushes me to get better and keep that hustle.”

On March 3, Schettig was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after her performance against Syracuse. She won her first two career draw controls, caused three turnovers and picked up a team-high five ground balls. Those five traps were the most in a match for a Maryland freshman since 2016.

Schettig helped keep the Terps in that game, causing a turnover from the nation’s then-best goal scorer, Emily Hawryschuk, which Maryland returned for a goal on the other end.

Early in the season, Reese said that her squad struggled with energy in its performances on offense and defense. Schettig has since become a prime catalyst for Maryland’s momentum.

[Read more: Maryland women’s lacrosse held Hofstra’s dominant draw control unit in check]

“Energy [in game] comes from our energy in practice,” Schettig said. “It’s hard to come out every day and have that level of energy and intensity … stepping on the field and having that mentality correlates to the overall team energy.”

Reese said that she has been impressed with how the current freshman class has transitioned into the college game, citing the performances of attackers Libby May and Hannah Leubecker, and midfielders Kate Sites and Shaylan Ahearn.

But it is Schettig who has elevated her performances above the pack, earning herself a spot atop the defensive unit.

She is still adding more layers to her game, Reese said. But, Schettig’s strong performances have breathed life into a youthful, inconsistent defensive corp.

And that’s just what Maryland needs going forward.

“I just love her,” Reese said. “The coolest thing about where she is at this point in the season is how her level of confidence in her ability and her teammates has grown … Now she’s starting to really communicate more, and work with the people next to her more.”