As the clock hit zeros and the final whistle was blown — ending Maryland’s season in a one-goal defeat after the Terps gave up a 4-0 Boston College run — defender Abby Bosco felt there was unfinished business.

Bosco transferred to Maryland women’s lacrosse from Penn ahead of last season and broke out in a big way for the Terps, earning First-Team All-American honors. She was unsure if her first year with Maryland would be her last throughout her stellar campaign, or if she’d use her extra year of eligibility granted due to COVID-19.

“I went back and forth for a really long time, but I think ultimately the final straw was the feeling that I felt after the horn went off in the final four,” Bosco said. “I knew how much potential the 2023 team has, and I would be crazy to miss out on that.”

And elevating the already high potential was the addition of Princeton transfer and fellow All-American defender, Marge Donovan

Donovan, like Bosco, is also using her extra COVID-19 year of eligibility. Together, the pair of graduate students from the Ivy League look to anchor a Terps defense that allowed the second fewest goals per game in the country last season.

“It’s been absolutely incredible. I think [assistant coach Lauri] Kenis is a mastermind on the defensive end, and it’s been so cool playing in a new system,” Donovan said. “I’ve just been trying to be like a sponge and absorb as much new information and defensive tips as I can.”

[Maryland women’s lacrosse announces three captains for 2023 season]

Donovan is entering College Park with high expectations. The 2022 All-American and Ivy League Defender of the Year led Princeton with 32 caused turnovers and 112 draw controls, the latter of which set the program’s single season record.

Bosco also joined the Terps with high expectations and was a preseason third-team All-American pick by Inside Lacrosse and USA Lacrosse Magazine last season. While Bosco performed well above those projections, it’d be hard to predict she’d be as dominant as she was considering her playing circumstances.

In the two seasons leading up to Bosco’s transfer to Maryland, Penn only played six games; five in 2020 before the season was shut down due to the pandemic and just one in 2021 before the Ivy League canceled all spring sports.

The lone game in 2021 was a good one for Bosco, with six draw controls, four ground balls and two caused turnovers. 

While two defenders generally would be on opposite sides of the field, Bosco was a midfielder for Penn up until 2021. Donovan’s new teammate didn’t just watch the former Princeton defender from afar, but she got to see Donovan in action.

“It’s gonna be so much fun getting to play together,” Bosco said. “We’re so familiar with each other as foes, that it’s really cool to kind of unite forces and play on the same field for the same team.”

For Donovan, playing for Maryland was in the making for a while.

Donovan said she was “late to the recruiting game,” and that the Terps weren’t an option coming out of high school. It seems like the timing ended up working out quite well, as Donovan joins a group of defenders with both depth and star power.

“I’m from here, right from Catonsville, so I wanted to be around family,” Donovan said. “I’m just really excited to come back home and play for a team I’ve watched growing up with such incredible players.”

The main loss on defense for Maryland is Torie Barretta, but the Terps were already forced to play without the former defender for a large part of last season after she injured her ACL.

[Maryland women’s lacrosse releases 2023 schedule]

The four starting defenders following Barretta’s injury — Bosco, Brianna Lamoureux, Aiden Peduzzi and Maddie Sanchez — all returned to Maryland.

The Terps will also have Kennedy Major, the top ranked defender in the class of 2021, and Clancy Rheude, who was the 2021 America East Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Both redshirted and missed the 2022 season due to injuries.

With the additions of Donovan and the freshman class to an already stacked portion of the roster, coach Cathy Reese and the Terps face a good problem to have: depth.

With that depth, it’s possible a handful of the defenders will have to sacrifice playing time. While the four that Reese starts may be a mystery for now, it’s safe to say a Maryland defense that allowed the second fewest goals in the nation has gotten even stronger.

And leading the charge of that defense — one that plays in front of reigning IWLCA National Goalkeeper of the Year Emily Sterling — will be Bosco and Donovan, the two All-American fifth-year Ivy-League transfers.

“[Donovan] is really settling in and kind of gelling and connecting with our defense very well,” Reese said. “It just takes a little time for everybody to kind of connect and get on the same page, so that’s what we’ve really been focusing on. I think we’re making progress, we’re not there yet, but one step at a time.”

That defense will begin its season Saturday against Saint Joseph’s. And whenever it starts clicking like Reese hopes, it could be one that adds to Maryland’s — or as some say, “Defender U’s” — legacy.