Chrissy Thomas wasn’t expected to be the catalyst of Maryland’s offense. The junior entered the season without a goal before notching a hat trick in the Terps’ season opener.
She’s been a secondary player since then, tallying seven assists and one goal in eight games.
But just as she did in the first game of the year Thomas broke out Wednesday. She doubled her goal tally on the season by scoring four and dished out three assists, both tied for team highs.
Four of her seven points came in the second half as Thomas helped No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse down No. 24 Penn in Philadelphia, 16-12. The Terps went on a 7-0 run in the second half that helped them retake the lead.
“I think that our offense really executed the game plan, we worked together and we trusted each other really well,” Thomas said. “We just succeeded play by play.”
Four other Terps — Shaylan Ahearn, Libby May, Kori Edmondson (twice) and Hannah Leubecker — scored in the flurry of goals. The performance demonstrated why Maryland coach Cathy Reese has preached the importance of having an attack where multiple players are legitimate threats to score.
“When things start to be tough, you can see some people trying to do it all themselves, and they didn’t, they worked the ball around, they shared the ball, and this is an area of growth I’m really proud of this team for tonight,” Reese said.
[A lot has changed since Abby Bosco left Penn. She returns with Maryland women’s lacrosse.]
Entering the game, Thomas was behind just one Terp in the team’s assist leaderboard — Eloise Clevenger. After posting a career-best 8 points against Rutgers Saturday, the junior carried the success into Wednesday’s game with two goals and three assists.
She spends much of her time behind the cage for Maryland (8-3, 1-0 Big Ten), dishing it to cutting teammates. She’s starred in that distributing role but coach Cathy Reese has wanted to see more aggressiveness from Clevenger.
Reese said she’s always telling the attacker to shoot more after the win over the Scarlet Knights. In the last two games, she’s done just that, wrapping around the crease from behind multiple times to sneak the ball past the opposing goalie.
“I love what Chrissy and Eloise were able to do tonight behind the cage, that adds a whole nother dimension to our offense, especially as the two of them start to get more confident. Not only are they feeding, but they’re scoring, too,” Reese said. “I thought they were excellent tonight.”
Clevenger was involved in the Terps’ first three scores, assisting on two and scoring one of her own.
The first came on a pass to Edmondson, who entered the day after earning last week’s Big Ten Midfielder and Freshman of the Week honors.
Penn (4-3, 2-0 Ivy League) scored to start the game but the freshman provided the Terps’ answer. She started on the left wing and attacked the cage, using a spin inside to seal her position before firing a shot into the back of the cage.
[No. 11 Maryland women’s lacrosse opens conference play with win over No. 22 Rutgers, 16-8]
Edmondson finished the day with four for her sixth consecutive hat trick.
But the Quakers matched the Terps’ scoring barrage and prevented Maryland from pulling away.
Penn’s Anna Brandt tortured Reese’s defense. The sophomore midfielder scored four of her team’s eight first-half goals and finished with five.
Penn trailed 9-6 with 8:11 left in the second quarter but scored two goals to end the first half and two more to start the second, rallying on a 4-0 run that gave it the lead. Its 10th tally broke the Maryland defense’s six-game streak of holding opponents to single-digit scoring totals.
But the Terps answered with their run, one they paired with stifling defense.
The Quakers exited the first two quarters with eight goals on 16 shots. But in the second half, Maryland clamped down and held them scoreless for over 18 minutes.
The ability and talent of the Terps’ defense aren’t a concern at all, but being able to find their form right off the bat is an area that Reese and the team will hope to improve.
“I think one of the things we’re struggling [with] right now is taking too much time to get to executing our [defensive] game plan,” Reese said. “Last game it felt like it took us a quarter before we settled in, so this is something that we need to just make an adjustment and come out that way from the start.”
That performance kept Maryland from faltering and losing its lead. Instead, Reese’s squad closed out its fifth consecutive victory.