COLLEGE PARK – Another season opener generated another strong, statement-making start for the Maryland women’s lacrosse team. The Terps hosted George Mason and forced 18 turnovers in a tremendous defensive showing that secured a running clock late in the second half and kicked off Maryland’s season with a 16-5 victory on Feb. 9.
The win was Maryland’s 78th in a row at home; the Terps haven’t lost at College Park since 2012. Senior midfielder Jen Giles was instrumental in the victory, as she registered a career-high five goals and one assist. Junior Kali Hartshorn and senior Caroline Steele both added three goals apiece.
“Our offense as a whole did a really good job moving for each other, so there were a few opportunities where I was able to get eight meters,” said Giles. “Overall, our offense was working really well together to create that space and get each other open.”
The Maryland offense enjoyed a prolific afternoon, but it was the Patriots who scored first on a quick goal by attacker Deanna Balsama. The freshman from New Jersey slipped past goalie Megan Taylor for an unassisted point from the right side of the net. However, that was the only time the Patriots took the lead, since Hartshorn tied the game a couple of minutes later and then Steele put the Terps out in front.
The Maryland defense made sure that lead stayed firmly in place as the Terps forced shot-clock violations, which led to turnovers for George Mason. Even with multiple mistakes, however, the Patriots refused to go away quietly and kept the score within reach in the first half.
However, the game spiraled out of George Mason’s control in the second half as the Terps capitalized on their momentum and extended their lead. Seven different Maryland players scored at least one goal, including transfer student and midfielder Erica Evans, who suited up in the red and white for the first time after missing last season due to a torn ACL. Evans finished the afternoon with two goals and two assists.
“She’s really settling in… she has experience and stuff, but it’s her first time coming out there and realizing the energy that surrounds Maryland lacrosse and being a part of all that,” said Maryland Head Coach Cathy Reese about Evans’ performance. “She did a great job; I thought all of our midfielders did a great job.”
Meanwhile, the Terp defense kept the Patriots from finding open shots, and, as a result, George Mason registered only 12 shot attempts and endured a scoring drought that lasted over 20 minutes.
However, despite being outplayed, the Patriots nearly matched Maryland on the draw, earning 10 possessions to Maryland’s 13. George Mason goalies Melissa Semkiw and Elizabeth Benedetto also combined for 13 saves.
“George Mason came out, and they challenged us on the draw. They were very tough and very physical in the center circle,” said Reese. “As we get started here this season, everyone is kind of settling in and figuring out their role and how they fit into the offense, and it’s nice today to be pushed by another team who just kept fighting and challenging us. That’s why we were able to see different people step up today.”
Both teams will be heading south for their next matchup. The Terps will escape the cold weather and travel to Florida to face the Gators on Feb. 14. George Mason is scheduled to face fellow Virginia team William and Mary on Feb. 16.
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