Maryland women’s lacrosse has scored large sums of goals early in games so far in 2024.

The Terps have tallied 52 times in the first quarter of contests this season, accounting for 37.4 percent of their goals, and have scored at least five in the opening frame on six separate occasions.

Yet their attacking efficiency doesn’t carry into the subsequent frames of the game. Their scoring figures drop to less than 40 goals in each of the final three quarters.

A high turnover rate might be to blame. The Terps haven’t sustained their fast starts, in part due to untimely self-inflicted turnovers that have prevented Maryland from excelling throughout all four periods.

“I don’t think we’ve played a full game yet this season,” goalie Emily Sterling said. “But I think we know what we’re capable of.”

The Terps average about 14 giveaways per game and haven’t finished a game this season with less than 10. But their problem isn’t just opponents causing changes in possession. Maryland is doing harm to itself.

In four games this season, the Terps are solely responsible for nine or more of their own turnovers. This can be caused by an errant pass, an attacking player stepping inside the goal crease or a shot-clock violation if the attacking team fails to shoot on target in 90 seconds. Maryland has committed almost half its turnovers this way.

[No. 1 Maryland women’s lacrosse snaps win streak, falls 13-9 to Penn]

During periods of play with a substantial amount of turnovers, the Terps’ attack falters and the amount of goals scored plummets. It’s a persistent problem limiting the team’s offense halfway through the season, even with their success so far this year.

Maryland jumped out to a 4-0 lead in its Big Ten opener against Ohio State, only turning possession over to their opponents twice. The Terps gave away the ball eight times in the second and third quarters, resulting in just two goals in more than 30 minutes.

But a six-goal spurt in a final frame without a turnover helped Maryland earn its first conference victory.

“Moving forward we definitely want to come out a little bit faster, with a little bit more poise, a little bit sharper,” attacker Hannah Leubecker said.

The Terps underwent similar lulls throughout their six-game winning streak. Wins against Georgetown and Rutgers consisted of blips in goal scoring and an increase in miscues in possession.

Against the Hoyas, Maryland scored two goals combined in the second and fourth quarters, which can be attributed to four giveaways in each frame — tied for the most in any of the four periods.

Maryland also turned the ball over four times during a goalless second quarter in its matchup with Rutgers — two of which were uncaused and committed by attacker Eloise Clevenger and defender Aiden Peduzzi.

[Hannah Leubecker’s scoring surge comes at a perfect time for Maryland women’s lacrosse]

Maryland had its winning streak snapped by Penn on Wednesday. It gave the Quakers the ball 18 times — their second-highest total of the season — and generated only 20 shots in the four-goal loss.

“We were missing balls and getting touched and dropping it … that’s not helping us generate a lot of looks on offense,” coach Cathy Reese said after Wednesday’s loss to Penn. “Sometimes we were cradling and got checked. So that’s nothing, that’s just bad offense.”

Maryland is still scoring early in contests despite high turnover numbers. Its first quarters account for their highest scoring frame in seven of their 11 games. The Terps typically race out to an early lead, but scoring droughts interrupt their offensive rhythm and hold the unit back.

With excellent turnover-causing teams Northwestern and Johns Hopkins coming up on Maryland’s schedule, cutting down on turnovers will be necessary for the Terps to use their talented attack to their advantage for an entire game.

Maryland feels that it’s close to putting a complete game together. Keeping a hold of the ball as they enter the thick of their Big Ten schedule will be crucial to the Terps’ success.