PHILADELPHIA — Hannah Leubecker caught the ball in her stick past the midfield stripe, turned and sprinted towards a Saint Joseph’s defender. She dodged, getting inside position to fire at the goal. She shot low and saw the net ripple shortly after.

Leubecker’s tally three minutes into No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse’s season opener was the first of many for the Terps. Maryland defeated Saint Joseph’s for the third consecutive season, 16-3, at Sweeney Field on Friday.

The 13-goal victory is the Terps’ third consecutive win in a season opener.

Maryland’s top priority entering the season was to increase its shot percentage. The Terps ended last season below 50 percent, a mark coach Cathy Reese knew had to improve.

[Maryland women’s lacrosse knows it needs to score more to improve off disappointing 2023]

They tallied 17 shots in the first quarter, but the ball found the net just six times. Saint Joseph’s goalie Jorden Concordia made six saves and the Terps couldn’t connect on any of their six free position attempts.

“I didn’t love how we shot today,” Reese said. “But we had a lot of good looks and was really happy that everybody contributed.”

Movement off the ball was the key to breaking down the Hawks’ defense.

As Maisy Clevenger held the ball in her stick behind the goal, Jordyn Lipkin floated to the top of the shooting arc. She cut unmarked towards goal. Clevenger picked out the cutting attacker with an accurate pass for Lipkin to fire into an empty net for the Terps’ fourth score of the game.

Maryland’s eighth goal in the second quarter unfolded similarly. Clevenger again possessed the ball in her stick behind Saint Joseph’s net. Shannon Smith darted from her midfield position, catching and shooting in one motion for her second score of the first half.

Seven different Terps put their names on the scoresheet for 10 goals as Maryland’s defense shut out Saint Joseph’s in the first half. The Terps’ 10 scores came on 27 shots. Maryland forced 11 turnovers and Emily Sterling made seven saves to keep the Hawks scoreless through the opening 30 minutes.

“I thought defensively we played really well,” Reese said. “Emily was phenomenal in the cage. She is such an outstanding goalie when our D can play well in front of her, we put her in a position to do her thing and I thought our defense did a really nice job of that.”

[Maryland women’s lacrosse announces 2024 schedule]

Saint Joseph’s beat Sterling for its first goal of the game two minutes into the second half. Another Maryland barrage of goals followed.

Libby May, who led the Terps in goals last season with 62, scored her second on a feed from Eloise Clevenger. She then assisted Jaylen Rosga six minutes later on her second goal of the game, bringing Clevenger’s assist total to seven through three periods.

Maryland scored four goals on nine shots in the 15 minutes following halftime. Sterling ended the game with nine saves and just two goals against over three quarters for an 82 percent save percentage before being swapped for Julia Hammerschlag for the fourth quarter.

While the offense slowed in the game’s final moments with the Terps up double digits, their defense continued to shut down the Hawks.

Maryland forced three turnovers in the third quarter and four in the fourth. Saint Joseph’s mustered just 17 shots to Maryland’s 42.

“We really talked about the defensive plan we wanted to execute, just playing Maryland lacrosse,” Sterling said. “I think we really did that well today.”

Maisy Clevenger scored her first career goal in the fourth to add to her two assist night. May, Edmondson, Rosga and Hailey Russo each tallied a pair of goals to lead Terp scorers.