The Maryland women’s lacrosse team defeated Penn twice last year — including a 15-10 knockout in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals — but the Quakers don’t need the extra motivation of revenge to get up for today’s match against the No. 1 Terrapins.
“They’re the No. 1 seed, they were national champions last year, and they’re basically the best,” junior goalie Emily Leitner said. “So it’s always a question of bringing your best against the best teams and trying to assert yourself in the league.”
Despite graduating Tewaaraton Award winner Caitlyn McFadden, the Terrapins are even better than last year’s championship squad, according to Penn coach Karin Brower Corbett.
“They have a lot of threats,” Corbett said. “They’re really fast, they never seem to tire and they’re constantly pushing the tempo.”
The high-octane, fastbreak-oriented Terrapins attack will provide a stark contrast to the defensive-minded Quakers.
Maryland (11-0, 3-0 ACC) is first in the country with 16.8 goals per game, while Penn (8-1, 3-0 Ivy) is third defensively with a 6.25 goals against average.
The Terrapins have used an edge in draw controls, ground balls and forced turnovers to take 14 more shots per game than their opponents and win by an average of more than 10 goals.
Senior Sarah Mollison and junior Karri Ellen-Johnson are 9th and 12th, respectively, in points across Division I lacrosse. Mollison’s NCAA-leading assist total of 32 is higher than Penn’s 21 assists overall.
“[Our goal] is to take them out of their comfort zone and try and make them do something that they’re not used to,” Leitner said. “Their feeding and cutting game is really their bread-and-butter, so if we try to disrupt that … hopefully we can disrupt their attack flow.”
In the regular season last year, Maryland scored a decisive 12-6 victory at Franklin Field, buttressed by a 14-6 advantage in draw controls.
“We need to limit their touches on the ball as much as possible, and so that starts with the draw,” Corbett said.
On attack, Penn will try to control the pace rather than fall into Maryland’s preferred fastbreak tempo.
“It’s more of being smart than necessarily slowing down,” said Leitner, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian videographer. “I think we do well on attack when we move the ball rapidly. … It’s not playing into their speed, but it’s definitely not trying to stall by any means.”
As for the revenge factor, Corbett pointed to Penn’s large roster turnover in losing seven starters to downplay the significance of any bitter feelings lingering from Maryland’s victories in 2010.
“Do [upperclassmen] Giulia [Giordano] and Erin [Brennan] feel that way? Perhaps,” Corbett said. “But I think it’s about this year and not about last year at all.”