Replacing a Tewaaraton finalist and team leader in both goals and assists is far easier said than done, so Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese wasn’t looking for an individual to fill the shoes of Aurora Cordingley.
Instead, Maryland will call on several players to increase or shift their roles, collectively filling the void of Cordingley’s absence after she exhausted her eligibility last season.
Reese envisions the No. 2 Terps running more of a selfless, balanced attack. Though it had key departures in Cordingley and midfielder Grace Griffin, who was fifth in points for Maryland last season, Reese feels the Terps are not lacking depth due to the talent brought in during the offseason.
“The biggest change for us going into this season is we’re going to be a team where any of the seven [midfielders and attackers] on the field can score, and I would imagine things will reflect that,” Reese said. “We’re going to play a really selfless style.”
Senior attackers Hannah Leubecker and Libby May are both coming off of strong seasons, scoring 62 and 64 goals, respectively — just shy of Cordingley’s 67. But Cordingley separated herself with 51 assists last season, while Leubecker and May combined for just 23.
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Part of the distributing duties will likely be designated to junior attacker Eloise Clevenger, who tallied 31 assists and 32 goals for the Terps last year.
“She’s very good all around on the offensive end. We played her primarily behind [the cage] because she’s got such good field vision, and she’s a great assister … but she’s also really good coming from on top,” Reese said.”
Maryland will also look to its midfielders to replace last season’s attacking output, despite the group not being huge offensive threats last season. Griffin led the Terps midfield with 37 points on the year — a mark that wouldn’t be the top point-scoring midfielder on any other top 10 team last season.
Of the nine other teams in the top 10, the average number of points by their top midfielder was 65.9 — 78 percent higher than the Terps and Griffin.
However, the Terps didn’t need much scoring from the midfield with Clevenger, Cordingley, Leubecker and May leading Maryland’s attack to score 16.1 goals per game, good for eighth best in the country.
With the catalyst of the offense graduated, the midfield will have to adjust to playing on offense more, keeping opposing defenses on their toes. The group added some major talent to the roster in an attempt to do just that.
The Terps boasted the top ranked 2022 recruiting class in the country. Reese landed three top 10 prospects in top-ranked Kori Edmondson, No. 4 Maggie Weisman and No. 7 Jaylen Rosga. All three were listed as midfielders coming out of high school, though the Terps list Weisman as an attacker. They’ve impressed Reese and their teammates thus far.
“Our freshman class [is] the reason why we are going to be the team that we are this year … The freshman class pushes me more than any other class,” midfielder and captain Shaylan Ahearn said. “They work so hard, they play so hard, they’re so smart off-ball and they’re really eager to learn. Their questions are making it so that I’m learning new things as a senior at this point.”
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It’s quite possible the amount of talent on the defensive end, which figures to be a strength of the team, will allow for more aggressive midfield play on the offensive side.
The defense, playing in front of reigning IWLCA goalkeeper of the year Emily Sterling, looks to be led by former Ivy-Leaguers and graduate students Abby Bosco and Marge Donovan — the latter of whom transferred to Maryland from Princeton this year.
Maryland’s defense returns starters Brianna Lamoureux, Aiden Peduzzi and the lone member of Maryland’s 2019 National Championship team, Maddie Sanchez, in addition to Bosco. The Terps also return defenders Kennedy Major and Clancy Rheude, who both missed last season due to injury.
The Terps kick off their season against Saint Joseph’s at SECU Stadium Saturday, the start of a campaign in which they hope to win their sixth national championship under Reese.
Maryland has made it to 12 of the last 13 Final Fours. In the 2010s, the Terps played in eight NCAA title games, going 5-3.
But before the postseason comes around, the Terps face a grueling schedule in the regular season. No. 2 Maryland will hit the road to battle No. 5 Syracuse Feb. 17, beginning a stretch where it plays five current top 15 teams in about a month, all but one being on the road.With the grueling schedule and the sour taste after Boston College edged Maryland in last year’s Final Four, Maryland women’s lacrosse will aim to retool its attack and attempt to win its first National Championship since 2019.