For the first time in over 11 months, the Maryland Women’s Lacrosse team will take the field again. The 2021 schedule was released on Thursday and the Terps will visit in-state rival Johns Hopkins on February 14th for their first matchup of the season.
The 2021 schedule will feature only Big Ten opponents as Maryland will see Johns Hopkins, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, and Rutgers all twice apiece this season.
Head coach Cathy Reese seemed slightly disappointed that her squad would miss out on games against typical out of conference rivals such as Georgetown and North Carolina, but she is still incredibly eager to get back into playing real games.
“Our team is really excited and really looking forward to having the opportunity to compete,” Reese said on Friday. “Whatever hand we’re dealt, we’ll play.”
The Terps were not able to face off against any of those teams last year before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reese compared receiving the news that the season was being cancelled to “being hit by a truck.”
During Maryland’s 2019 National Championship run, only Northwestern was able to defeat the Terps but Maryland avenged that loss in the National Semifinal game.
The Big Ten will once again be one of the strongest lacrosse conferences in the nation. Northwestern (No. 5), Maryland (No. 7), and Michigan (No. 9) all reside in the top 10 of the IWLCA preseason poll and Penn State (No. 21) is also a top-25 team. The conference also has 13 players on Inside Lacrosse’s preseason all-american list, including Lizzio Colson (first-team), Brindi Griffin (third-team), and Grace Griffin (honorable mention) from Maryland.
Entering the 2021 season, Maryland will still be defending the title that they won in 2019 since no champion was awarded for the 2020 season. Although they have lost a number of key players from that team, the Terps return one of the strongest rosters in the nation.
They return 10 of 12 starters, including first-team All-American defender Lizzie Colson. Colson missed the 2020 season due to a torn ACL but will be fully healthy entering 2021, a big boost for the roster.
“Having [Lizzie Colson] back on the field… is something that’s been really big for us,” Reese said.
Another notable name is third-team All-American attacker Brindi Griffin, who decided to take advantage of her extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA and return for her fifth year at Maryland. Griffin and Colson will be joined by senior midfielder Grace Griffin as the captains for this year’s team.
“For me, it was such an easy decision,” Brindi Griffin said. “I was waiting to find out if I even had the opportunity to come back so as soon as I found out I immediately said yes.”
Maryland’s 2021 squad is composed of a lot of young talent. 12 freshmen were on the roster last year but played only six games due to the shortened season. In addition, Reese brought in another 7 freshmen to join the team this year.
While Reese said last year was a rebuilding year of sorts, both her and her veteran players seem excited with the promise the young players show.
“We’re meshing great so far,” Brindi Griffin said. “Between [last year’s freshman class] and our new freshmen you’d never know they haven’t played a college game yet.”
The Terps should be a very solid team on the attack this year and will give teams a lot of trouble with their speed and offensive firepower.
“I’m hoping we’re going to be more of a transition team this year where we’re fast and pushing the pace,” Reese said. “That’s something I’ve been really impressed with.”
Defense is an area where the team may experience some growing pains, but the return of Colson will certainly boost the talent of that unit and provide a veteran presence. Last year defense was an area of weakness for the Terps and with so few games played it’s tough to gauge how much the team grew and improved in that aspect of the game.
“We need to play other people,” Reese said. “I want us to play and see other offenses that do things differently than we do and that have different strengths.”
Goalie is another position that presents some unknowns this season. Junior Maddie McSally came on towards the end of last year’s abbreviated season, but Reese was not ready to commit to a starter. Sophomore Emily Sterling has also impressed Reese, creating what seems like an open competition with the possibility of splitting time during season games.
There is plenty of optimism and excitement surrounding this year’s Maryland lacrosse season as they get ready to defend their 2019 championship. With the season just over a week away, the eagerness to get back on the field is clear among the coaches and the players.
“It feels like we’re counting down the days till’ Christmas,” Grace Griffin said.