Even after a convincing 15-6 win over Villanova, Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese pointed out one area of struggle the Terps need to improve in, one she’s discussed all year: inefficient shooting.
Whenever Reese looks at the box score after a game, her eyes quickly go to Maryland’s shooting numbers. She hopes to see it above 50 percent.
The figure she saw on Saturday — 38.5 percent — wasn’t even in the realm of meeting the benchmark, and mimicked the numbers the Terps have put up this entire season. Maryland has already had four games with under 40 percent shooting this year, more than last season’s mark.
But Reese’s squad still scored well and came away with the win. It can thank draw control dominance and a disciplined defense for that. That’s become a trend for Maryland.
Villanova has been solid in the draw circle this season, entering the game with a draw control percentage of 56.9, but was no match for Maryland. The Terps won 18 draw controls to the Wildcats’ six.
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“[Draw controls are] such an important part of our game,” Reese said after Maryland’s 22-4 win over William & Mary Wednesday. “It leads to possessions, possessions are opportunities to score … this [sounds like] the dumbest thing ever, but when we have the ball, they don’t.”
Shaylan Ahearn and Abby Bosco led the Terps with ten and seven draw controls respectively against Villanova.
Ahearn has tallied 56 draw controls on the season. The midfielder is on pace to reach 100 draw controls for the second consecutive season.
She’s helped the Terps achieve the 14th-best draw percentage in the country at 60.3. After the strong performance in the draw circle, that percentage is now up to 62.0, which would put them in the top ten.
“I’m really, really lucky that our coaches put an emphasis on the draw. And so they’re always out there with me helping me train,” the senior captain said. “Our communication was just spot on. [My teammates] knew exactly where I was trying to put the ball and they were doing a really good job of talking to me on the circle so I knew where to place it.”
[Maryland women’s lacrosse’s defense is starting to live up to its top billing]
With the added possessions from the draw control success, Maryland is averaging 32.3 shots per game while its opponents are taking 20.1 per game. Many of the Terps’ shots come off free position opportunities, another way they overcome inefficiencies.
Five of the Terps’ goals Saturday came from free position shots and those chances accounted for 12 of their 39 total shots. Villanova had just two attempts and didn’t convert on either.
Maryland leads the nation in free position attempts, with 71 on the season while its opponents have just 25.
Reese’s squad has drawn 208 fouls while committing just 116. As a consequence of opponents’ cards, it has scored 15 times in woman-up situations while their opponents have done so just five times.
“Discipline is one of the big pillars of our defense, we’re always trying to be disciplined in whatever we do, never trying to do anything crazy. [The foul disparity] just shows that we were playing our discipline-style defense that we like to play here in Maryland,” Bosco said.
The two skills — draw controls to gain more possessions and discipline to increase free position chance disparity — have combined to help Reese’s squad win games despite shooting woes.