Following a poor shooting night against James Madison just four days earlier, it took a while for Maryland women’s lacrosse to come out of hibernation against a stout Denver defense Sunday.
The now-No. 11 Terps converted on just one of their first six shots — scoring on a free position by freshman midfielder Kori Edmondson — and had three turnovers in the first eight minutes.
But with just less than four minutes left in the first quarter, coach Cathy Reese stood at the sideline and watched Edmondson, the nation’s number one recruit, find the back of the net for the second time.
“Welp, you’re not coming off the field today,” Reese thought after Edmondson’s first two goals.
If the college lacrosse world has yet to meet Edmondson, it likely will soon. The Maryland midfielder showed why she was the nation’s top recruit Sunday, despite the Terps’ narrow loss — and if her breakout game was a sign of what’s to come, opponents better watch out.
Edmondson, a McDonogh High School product, appeared in each of Maryland’s first five games before Denver and was productive, with four points (3 goals, 1 assist), three ground balls and four draw controls.
In Maryland’s 8-7 loss to now-No. 6 Denver, Edmondson took yet another leap, ending the game with the best performance of her young collegiate career.
Edmondson doubled her season goal total in the defeat, leading the Terps with three, notching her first career hat trick while also scooping a ground ball and recording three draw controls.
“Love what we saw from Kori… you could see how hard she went and what a tough player she is,” Reese said. “This is just the starting point for her as we kind of get going into her career as a Terp.”
Edmondson’s assertiveness was clear early on, as she scored the first two goals of the contest. Even with the aggressiveness, she was still efficient. Edmondson’s three goals came from five shot attempts, and she was the only Terp to shoot above 50 percent aside from Eloise Clevenger, who scored on her only attempt of the day.
But it was Edmondson’s third goal that was most impressive.
The freshman was just within the 12-meter arc on the right side, and after dodging two defenders while attacking the cage, Edmondson, one step away from entering the crease, swiveled around it toward the left side.
Still running to her left, Edmondson met a third defender and shoveled the ball past her and the outstretched stick of the Pioneer’s goalie, Emelia Bohi.
As Maryland pieces the puzzle together, Edmondson’s confidence and comfort is growing, which is evident by her play.
“It’s definitely a big adjustment, I feel like the game speed is incredibly faster than it is in high school … everyone is good [here], everyone was a star [in high school],” Edmondson said. “Having [teammates] say that, ‘You’re okay, we all have confidence in you,’ everyone on the team just has our back … that made me play with a little bit more ease, and not be so eager to jump and make rash decisions.”
But Edmondson’s game isn’t just on the offensive end, as part of Edmondson’s value is her ability on both the attack and defense.
Like anyone who enters college as the top recruit in the nation, expectations of Edmondson are naturally high. And because she’s a Maryland two-way midfielder, some have made lofty comparisons — most notably to her coach at McDonogh, Taylor Cummings.
While their play styles have similarities, it’s largely unfair to compare any teenager to Cummings. Regarded as one of, if not the greatest college lacrosse player of all time, Cummings was a four-time first-team All-American, two-time national champion and the only college lacrosse player — including both men and women — to win three Tewaaraton awards.
Only time will tell just how good Edmondson becomes, but what can be assumed is that her strong performance Sunday looked to be the first of many — and Reese and the Terps have lots to look forward to with Edmondson.
“She’s a competitor, she is mentally tough and strong, but she’s a freshman. So we’re going to see some learning [and] some growing pains,” Reese said. “I love the no fear attitude, I love how hard she gets up the field, I love how she handled people’s pressure.”