No. 11 Maryland women’s lacrosse visits No. 24 Rutgers in final game of regular season

(Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

The Terps (7-4 B1G) will travel to Piscataway to face the Scarlet Knights (4-7 B1G) in a rematch of a tightly contested game. Maryland is coming off of a narrow 9-8 victory over Johns Hopkins while Rutgers is coming off of a tight win of their own, a 17-16 home victory over Penn State. 

The last game played between these two teams was a very competitive matchup. At multiple points throughout the game, Maryland appeared to be in control but Rutgers always stormed back. Seniors Brindi Griffin and Hannah Warther shined that day for the Terps, leading them to a victory on Senior Day.

Both of Maryland’s past two wins have been tightly contested compared to some of the dominant victories that the team had earlier on in the season.

“It’s really important that we know that when the going gets tough, we’ll keep fighting,” Grace Griffin said about her team’s ability to win close games. “Knowing that, as a team, we’re able to overcome that adversity and execute is really important.” 

In the two games Rutgers has played since the first matchup with Maryland, goals have come at a dime a dozen. The Scarlet Knights have scored 27 goals while giving up 33 over their past two games while Maryland has continued to struggle to find the back of the net. 

A matchup against one of the Big Ten’s weaker defenses may be exactly what the Terps need. Maryland’s leading scorer, sophomore Hannah Leubecker, has only tallied four goals in her last three games. She will have a great opportunity to get back on track on Sunday.

Maryland has recently been carried by their seniors on offense. Brindi Griffin has scored at least three goals in each of the Terps’ last three games while Warther and Catie May have also been key contributors on the offensive end.

The Terps have continued to struggle with consistency on offense, something that has been a point of emphasis all year for head coach Cathy Reese. 

“It’s like a problem I can’t solve right now,” Reese said regarding her team’s consistency on offense. “Every play matters and we need to shoot with that kind of passion and that energy, and when we do and we’re over 50%, we can create good things.”

Another problem Reese has not been able to solve this season is turnovers on the offensive end. While Maryland improved in that aspect against Johns Hopkins, it is another area where they have lacked consistency, giving away too many possessions due to careless mistakes.

“We have way too many turnovers still,” Reese said after the Hopkins game. “When you say unforced turnovers, I was pleased with that aspect of it. Now we need to do a better job of the offensive end, we’re just too sloppy. Every turnover is giving up an opportunity to score.” 

On defense, Maryland will once again be challenged with containing sophomore midfielder Cassidy Spills, who leads Rutgers with 30 goals on the season, including three against Maryland in the first meeting.

The Rutgers offense trails only Northwestern in shooting percentage in the Big Ten, but they have been average at best on the draw. The Scarlet Knights actually bested Maryland on the draw in the first game, something they will need to do again if they want to have a chance. 

If Maryland can continue to cut down on turnovers and bounceback on the draw, they should be in a good position to come away with a victory. However, Rutgers knows they can beat the Terps if they play well, so expect another tightly contested battle between these two squads.

First faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game will air on BTN Plus.