Yesterday, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team, the No. 1 team in all the land, handled up No. 3 Florida by a score of 18-8.
As has been the case in most regular seasons since 1995, Maryland has been the dominant national program. Consider the top three opponents to come through College Park this season: North Carolina, Syracuse, and Florida. Not only has Maryland beaten the latter two by 10 goals, but it has held three very high-scoring teams to 10 goals or fewer.
What’s been going on?
- Megan Taylor. The sophomore goaltender has been lights-out, making stops in situations when your mind says, “Here comes a goal.” Indeed, against Florida, she made 20 saves. Of course, when your opposition in practice takes world-class shots, it’s no wonder Taylor has gotten so good.
- Team defense. I thought last year’s unit, led by Tewaaraton finalist Alice Mercer, was a good backline. But this year’s group — Nadine Hadnagy, Julia Braig, Morgan Torggler, and Alex McKay — have been astounding. They have collectively held three of the finest scorers in the country — Florida’s Mollie Stevens, UNC’s Sammy Jo Tracy, and Syracuse’s Nicole Levy — pointless in three games against the Terps this season.
- Home cooking. As good as Maryland has played, all three games were at home. Travel has not been a factor thus far, but will have to play ranked opponents Penn State and Northwestern on the road to close out the regular season.
- The draw. It’s a simple principle: if the other team doesn’t have the ball, then they can’t score. Kali Hartschorn, the freshman center from Allentown (N.J.) is in the tradition of Quinn Carney and Dana Dobbie and Taylor Cummings when it comes to tilting the advantage during draw-control situations.
Now, I’ve seen plenty of Maryland since this site started. I’ve watched Sascha Newmarch, Sarah Forbes, Cathy Nelson, Kelly Amonte, Jamie Brodsky, Tori Wellington, Sarah Mollison, the Egan twins, Caitlyn McFadden, Kelly Coppedge, Sonia Judd, Courtney Martinez, Allison Comito, Kristin Sommar, Jen Adams, Kari Ellen Johnson, Katie Schwarzmann, and all of the rest.
And this current group has a chance of ascending to the firmament of being the best team ever to play women’s lacrosse in a U.S. college environment.
Whether this team does or not, of course, is to be determined in the next month’s worth of games, plus two tournaments.