Even though her team lost, Cathy Reese was pleased with Maryland women’s lacrosse’s performance in its loss to No. 1 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship game.

Her team played strong defense and the offense generated 32 shots, many of which Reese felt were high-quality looks.

But the issue in the defeat, as it’s been in many of the Terps’ this season, was finishing those looks. The Terps scored nine goals and shot just 28.1 percent against the Wildcats.

“You’re going back to game one with me on this, this is something we need to [work on and] be able to put away our opportunities when you play a team like Northwestern,” Reese said. “I’m proud of how our team attacked and proud of the looks that we found. Taking that extra second and sticking them is the next step for sure.”

Though shooting has been an issue throughout the course of the year, it’s been particularly concerning as of late.

[Maryland women’s lacrosse to face Drexel in Harrisonburg in first round of NCAA tournament]

Maryland started the season 3-3 after playing four top-12 opponents in its first six games. The Terps shot 39.2 percent and scored 11.5 goals per game in that span.

They followed with a nine-game winning streak that included wins over three ranked teams. Maryland looked like it had a completely different attack. The team averaged 15.7 goals per game on 49 percent shooting in the streak.

But over the last five games, the Terps’ shooting has regressed. It didn’t just fall back to where it was in its first six games — it’s been worse. Reese’s squad averaged 9.6 goals per game on a 34.3 percent clip and went 2-3.
Part of the inefficiency can be attributed to Northwestern goalie Molly Laliberty. The graduate student, who was named second-team All-Big Ten and to the All-Tournament team, tallied 11 saves against the Terps on Saturday.

But Reese thinks her squad could have also done more to make its shots less saveable.

[Maryland women’s lacrosse loses Big Ten title game to Northwestern, 14-9]

“We just need to take an extra second and put it around her,” she said. “I thought she was kind of dropping low a lot pretty quick and we were trying to fake high and shoot low, where we need to see where she is and then react rather than just try to guess where she’s going.”

It’s a fix that the Terps will need to make quickly — each game is ‘win-or-go-home’ from this point.

Maryland’s first NCAA tournament game will be against Drexel at 5 p.m. on Friday. The Terps beat the Dragons in February, 15-9. It was a rare game where they exceeded 50 percent shooting, going 15-for-27.

Eight days later, the Terps shot a season-low 24.1 percent in an 8-7 loss against then-No. 12 James Madison.

If the Terps beat Drexel and the seventh-seeded Dukes beat Army, Maryland will have a chance to avenge that loss Saturday.

To do that, though, the Terps will need to break out of their shooting slump and find the back of the net at a considerably higher rate.