In the weeks leading up to the season, Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese made one thing about her team’s play style clear: Its attack would be selfless, well distributed and come via committee, with seven players being scoring threats on each possession.
One of Reese’s big focuses heading into the season was getting her new players — who account for 13 of the Terps’ 33 players — acclimated with the team and Maryland’s brand of lacrosse.
To find success with that system, each player needs to be on the same wavelength of where to be, where to go and how to attack the defense. No. 2 Maryland’s 20-11 loss to No. 4 Syracuse showed that at this early point, that was not the case.
A program like Maryland — which leads the country with 14 national championships, twice as many as the next-best program — has championship aspirations every year.
To make that goal a reality in 2023, the Terps have lots of work to do. But thankfully for Reese and Maryland, it’s only mid-February.
“Having this game happen in our second game of the season … we’ll see, but this needs to be a point for us that we can go in an upward direction and start to make some adjustments, and execute our game plan,” Reese said following the loss. “Syracuse was by far the better team today, and they outplayed us all over the field.”
The number of shot attempts wasn’t what frustrated Reese and the Terps — instead, it was the lack of offensive efficiency.
Maryland’s 11 goals were the fewest it’s scored in its last 13 games. The Terps shooting percentage was 35.4 percent against Syracuse and now 38.2 percent on the season — both well below last year, when they shot 48.3 percent over the entire season.
Maryland’s top returning goal scorers, Libby May (64 goals, 56.6 percent), Hannah Leubecker (62 goals, 46.6 percent) and Eloise Clevenger (32 goals, 54.2 percent) haven’t gotten off to strong starts either.
The trio has scored nine goals on 25 attempts through the first two games, shooting just 36 percent.
And despite being a team that wants to play a selfless style of lacrosse, its early numbers don’t reflect that. Five of the Terps’ 11 goals against Syracuse came from free-position shots, which require no passing.
Maryland had an assist on 44.1 percent of its goals last year, but finished with just three assists against Syracuse Friday.
Despite having nine different scorers in their first game and eight against Syracuse, Clevenger and Chrissy Thomas are the only Terps with multiple assists on the season.
“The biggest thing is just trusting one another. I think that on the field, you could kind of see there was a little bit of timidness and lack of trust,” senior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn said.
Two games into a season with new players and returning players in new roles it’s no surprise the chemistry isn’t fully there yet — but to meet their championship aspirations, the Terps have a lot of work to do.
“We’ll be better, we’ll be back Tuesday ready to compete, and there’s no doubt in my mind with that,” Reese said. “But we just need to kind of settle in with this and make some adjustments and be ready to go.”