Before Shaylan Ahearn could answer what was working for Maryland’s draw control unit after the Terps’ 11-7 victory over Ohio State on Saturday, Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese interjected without hesitation.

“Shay was,” the Maryland coach said.

The Terps outdrew the Buckeyes 19-3 in their Big Ten quarterfinal victory. Ahearn became the fourth player in program history to tally 300 career draw controls – notching eight during Saturday’s competition.

Ahearn was a unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection and could very well be crowned the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Monday. But like the many Maryland draw specialists that came before her, Ahearn’s prowess extends beyond the Big Ten Conference, Reese said.

“She’s the best in the country at what she’s doing,” Reese said. “We’ve seen that growth [through her career] really pay off and her be another one of the Maryland greats in the middle.”

Though Taylor Cummings’ 509 career draws seem unsurpassable, Ahearn has solid odds of finishing her career with the second-most draw controls in program history.

Lizzie Colson, who was on the circle while Ahearn was the draw specialist in 2021, sits at third on Maryland’s all-time leading draw list with 324. Kali Hartshorn, who was Ahearn’s predecessor and mentor during the shortened 2020 season, slots in at second with 421.

“Shay has done a phenomenal job all season, I mean credit to her because she’s really like our commanding voice out there on the circle,” Bosco said. “Our chemistry and our relationship on the circle is something we have so much fun doing together.”

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Freshman Kori Edmondson posted a career-best four draw controls in the victory over Ohio State. Ahearn is quick to point out her teammates’ performances anytime the Terps dominate the draw, but they always return the praise. Edmondson credited her success Saturday to Ahearn’s ball placement.

“Having Shay as a draw [specialist] is something that a lot of girls don’t get to experience because she’s probably one of the best out there, if not the best,” Edmondson said. “Being able to have her just put the ball where I need and I just have to run on to it, and not have to think, it’s just a blessing.”

Ahearn’s ability to both win the draw herself, with 234 in the last two seasons, and push it out to teammates on the circle is an integral ingredient to Maryland’s success.

The senior captain leads the Terps in total expected goals added and expected goals added per game, according to Lacrosse Reference.

Ahearn contributes on both sides of the field as well, with the fifth-most goals, third-most assists and is tied for the fourth-most turnovers caused for Maryland. But the draw circle is undeniably where she sets herself apart.

The Terps’ 62.4 draw percentage ranks third in the NCAA. They’ve lost the draw control battle in just two of their 18 games and won more than 70 percent of draws in seven of them.

[Maryland women’s lacrosse ekes past Ohio State, 11-7, advances to Big Ten tourney semifinal]

Maryland’s proficiency in the draw circle means it ranks fourth in the country in adjusted possession margin, according to Lacrosse Reference.

Ahearn’s impact on the game and career numbers, which are among the best in Maryland’s rich history, bring praise and comparisons to the greats.

“I’ve grown up watching this program and wanting to be a part of it,” Ahearn said after recording her 100th draw control this season on April 8. “Putting my name next to people that I’ve watched for years, Dana Dobbie I’m sure, Taylor Cummings, even Kali [Hartshorn] who was right before me, they’re people that I’ve looked up to for so long … being up there with them means a lot.”

Ahearn is a senior but will use her extra year of eligibility to return for her fifth season in College Park.

With it, she’ll continue to climb the rankings in Maryland’s record book. And more importantly to Reese, Ahearn will continue to help Maryland win.

“The draw in our game is so important,” Reese said. “[Ahearn] can read what’s happening, she knows where to put it, and we have great circle people who are there to kind of fight it out. That, in turn, allowed us to have possessions, and you can’t score if you don’t have the ball.”