Weekend Takeaways: Maryland Still the Team to Beat
A weekend that had to the potential to provide clarity to the women’s lacrosse season, or muddy the waters, did a little bit of both. Maryland is still the team to beat, there remains a slight cliff between the top four and everyone else, and crashing the elite level is no easy task.
1. If Maryland is this deep, look out.
How many lacrosse fans had heard the name Taylor Hensh before Saturday? Hensh, a sophomore, came into Maryland’s game against Syracuse with a grand total of 12 goals in her first 21 collegiate games. But in a game featuring the biggest stars in the sport, Hensh took center stage, scoring a career-high four goals and adding an assist to spark the Terps to a 14-9 victory.
Hensh scored the first goal of the game to spur Maryland to an early 3-0 lead. After Syracuse All-American Kayla Treanor gave the Orange its first lead of the game at 5-4 with 56 seconds left in the first half, Hensh answered just 26 seconds later to tie the game. After Treanor again gave Syracuse a lead, Hensh tied the game 7-7 and the Terps never trailed again. Hensh’s final goal came during a five-goal Terp run that put an emphatic stamp on the game.
Coming into the season, Maryland was everyone’s No. 1. Why wouldn’t you pick the Terps to defend their title when they returned the best player in the country in Taylor Cummings along with several other stars? But Maryland lost a ton – seven starters – from that championship team. Could they reload or would they go into rebuilding mode?
If players like Hensh continue to step up and answer the bell, it’s looking like the Terps are simply reloading.
2. It’s a tall climb to the top of the mountain.
Last week’s Nike/Lacrosse Magazine poll featured a two-loss North Carolina team at No. 4 and undefeated Louisville at No. 5. How close was the gap between those two spots, and are the top four on a different level?
The gap may have widened a bit after this weekend’s games. Virginia gave North Carolina all it could handle, scoring the final four goals of regulation to send it into overtime, but the Tar Heels took care of business with Sydney Holman scoring in the second overtime to lift the Tar Heels. A bigger impact was a four-loss Duke team blowing out Louisville 16-5.
Sophomore Kyra Harney is Duke's leading scorer with 37 points on 26 goals and 11 assists. The Blue Devils routed previously unbeaten Louisville 16-5 on Saturday. Harney had four goals and two assists in the victory. (Dirk Dewachter)
3. Don’t look now, but Duke is leading the ACC.
Duke has four losses – two of them to unranked teams – but the Blue Devils are in first place in the ACC with a 2-0 record after hammering Louisville on Saturday. Obviously that means nothing yet, and the Blue Devils close the season with a murderer’s row of Virginia, Syracuse, Boston College, Notre Dame and North Carolina on consecutive weekends, but Duke is still a dangerous team. They have one of the nation’s best goalies in Kelsey Duryea (56.4 save percentage) and an offense that is getting better and better with experience. The key will be developing more depth and consistency on the offensive end of the field.
Sophomore Kyra Harney leads the team with 37 points (26g, 11a), Kelci Smesko has 23 goals, including six in the win over Lousiville, after missing all of last season with an injury. Senior Maddy Acton has 13 goals, freshman Olivia Jenner has 12 goals, and sophomore Maddie Crutchfield’s 21 points (11g, 10a) ranks third on the team. But from there, no one else has more than five points. Duke is averaging 15.8 goals per game in its wins, but just 7.0 goals in its four losses. It’s not hard to see where the improvement is needed.
4. Notre Dame isn’t going anywhere.
Notre Dame lost four of its final five games in 2013, including a first-round loss to Stanford in the NCAA tournament. The Irish followed that up by losing nine games in both 2014 and 2015, so their 5-0 start this year was somewhat surprising. A double-overtime loss to Louisville last week could have been the end of the magic, but Notre Dame came back with three wins this week, capped by an impressive 16-11 win over Princeton on Sunday.
Notre Dame has talent at both ends of the field. Barbara Sullivan leads an aggressive, attacking defense and had seven caused turnovers against Princeton, her second game this year hitting that milestone. Freshman goalie Samantha Giacolone has been up to the task when opponents have been able to get through the pressure.
On offense, Notre Dame is averaging a ridiculous 16.6 goals per game and junior Cortney Fortunato has already hit the 50-point mark (31g, 19a). She’s one of seven Irish players with double-digit goals this season.
Unbeaten USC welcomes Stony Brook to Los Angeles for a big game on Monday. The Trojans (4-0) are looking for their second Top 20 win of the season. (Dirk Dewachter)
5. Big Monday is not just for basketball.
Monday is usually a dead day on the lacrosse calendar, but not this week. There are two very interesting games on Monday night. Two of last year’s feel-good stories – Stony Brook and USC – meet in Los Angeles. The Seawolves are coming off a 7-6 loss to Northwestern in which they scored just once in the second half. USC is 4-0, but hasn’t played since beating Vermont 18-7 on March 5.
Also on Monday, a pair of undefeated teams meet up in Florida. Towson (6-0) plays at Florida (8-0). The Gators' list of victims this year gives them the best resume in the sport: wins over North Carolina, Syracuse, Stony Brook and Boston College. Adding Towson to the list would be another check mark, but the Gators have to avoid falling into the trap of looking ahead. No. 1 Maryland is coming to Gainesville on Saturday.
Taylor Hensh, Maryland: The sophomore entered the Syracuse game with three goals on eight shots in Maryland’s first four games. Against the Orange, she had a game-high four goals on seven shots to lead the Terps to the win.
Maddie Crutchfield, Duke: The sophomore set a Duke record with six assists and had nine points overall as the Blue Devils handed No. 5 Louisville its first loss of the season in a stunning blowout.
Erika Eipp, Massachusetts: Eipp scored four goals, all of them coming a nine-goal run to open the game, as the Minutewomen beat Connecticut 15-6, handing UConn its first loss of the season.
Tewaaraton favorites Taylor Cummings of Maryland and Kayla Treanor of Syracuse went head-to-head in the draw circle in Saturday's big showdown. The Terps dominated down the stretch to pull away for a 14-9 victory. Both stars had had tricks in the game. (Greg Wall)
Game of the Weekend
Maryland 14, Syracuse 9
Syracuse pushed two-time defending NCAA champion Maryland, but the Terps once again had the answer for the Orange. Maryland outscored Syracuse 8-2 over the final 22 minutes to pull away for a 14-9 victory and stretch its winning streak over the Orange to eight games. Both stars delivered, with Maryland’s Taylor Cummings netting three goals, three caused turnovers and two draw controls. Syracuse’s Kayla Treanor had three goals and four draw controls.
Numbers of Significance
Undefeated teams left: Cornell, Florida, Maryland, Towson and USC. Connecticut, Louisville, Princeton and Winthrop all suffered their first losses this weekend.
Shots Stony Brook took in the second half in a 7-6 loss against Northwestern.
Games already played by Virginia Tech (5-6). The Hokies, who gave No. 20 Ohio State a scare before falling 10-8 on Sunday, have just three regular season games in the month of April.
Games Cornell has won this year despite being held to single digits. The 5-0 Big Red are averaging just 9.8 goals per game, but a stingy defense is giving up just 6.4.
How the Nike/LM Top 20 Fared
1. Maryland (5-0): beat Syracuse 14-9; next: at Florida (Saturday)
2. Florida (8-0): beat Boston College 15-6; next: vs. Towson (Monday)
3. Syracuse (6-2): lost to Maryland 14-9; next: at Harvard (Wednesday)
4. North Carolina (5-2): beat Virginia 11-10 (2ot); next: at Elon (Tuesday)
5. Louisville (7-1): lost to Duke 16-5; next: at Canisius (Wednesday)
6. Notre Dame (8-1): beat Princeton 16-11; next: vs. Virginia (Saturday)
7. Princeton (4-1): lost to Notre Dame 16-11; next: at Penn State (Wednesday)
8. Stony Brook (2-2): lost to Northwestern 7-6; next at USC (Monday)
9. Virginia (4-4): lost to North Carolina 11-10 (2ot); next: at Notre Dame (Saturday)
10. Penn State (6-1): beat Vanderbilt 15-11; next: vs. Princeton (Wednesday)
11. USC (4-0): idle; next: vs. Stony Brook (Monday)
12. Stanford (4-1): idle; vs. Penn State (Sunday)
13. Northwestern (3-3): beat Stony Brook 7-6; next: vs. North Carolina (Sunday)
14. Boston College (5-3): lost to Florida 15-6, beat Stetson 18-10; next: vs. Syracuse (Saturday)
15. Towson (6-0): beat Stetson 17-3; next: at Florida (Monday)
16. Duke (5-4): beat Louisville 16-5; next: at Columbia (Wednesday)
17. Penn (5-1): beat Georgetown 15-8; next: at Towson (Saturday)
18. Connecticut (4-1): lost to Massachusetts 15-6; next: at William & Mary (Wednesday)
19. Massachusetts (5-1): beat Connecticut 15-6; next: at Michigan (Friday)
20. Ohio State (6-1): beat Cincinnati 11-5, beat Virginia Tech 10-8; next: vs. Canisius (Saturday)
Delaware carries a five-game winning streak to Philadelphia on Wednesday to face another red-hot team. Temple owns a seven-game winning streak since dropping its season opener to Louisville. (Kevin P. Tucker)
Five to Watch this Week
Delaware at Temple (3 p.m., Wednesday): This historic regional rivalry has added juice this year with both teams playing well. Since losing a close 8-5 game to Louisville to open the season, Temple has won seven straight games. Delaware’s only loss came against Penn and they’ve won five straight to get to 7-1. Delaware beat Temple in the 1983 NCAA championship game, the first year that all of the major women's college programs competed under the NCAA umbrella.
Maryland at Florida (12 p.m., Saturday): Maryland will finally get its No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown after North Carolina and Syracuse suffered losses before their games with the Terps. Florida’s resume has been stunning this season, but they have a tough Monday game against Towson before Saturday’s game.
Virginia at Notre Dame (2 p.m., Saturday): Notre Dame has been piling up quality wins all season, and bounced back from its overtime loss to Louisville with a strong win over Princeton. The Irish will face a hungry Virginia team that opened the season with an impressive win over Northwestern, but comes into this game on a three-game losing streak.
Penn at Towson (3 p.m., Saturday): Two teams that have been solid in the early going, but without eye-opening wins, get a chance to earn a Top 20 win.
North Carolina at Northwestern (1 p.m., Sunday): A three-game losing streak had some doubting if Northwestern was ready to return to elite level. Now the Wildcats have won two straight, including Saturday’s win over Stony Brook, with a chance to make a major statement against North Carolina. The Tar Heels, who already have two one-goal losses this season, almost blew a four-goal lead against Virginia, but came back to win in double overtime Saturday.
comments powered by Disqus