Of the Maryland women’s lacrosse team’s 12 starters, 10 returned from last season, when the Terrapins fell in the NCAA semifinals to Northwestern and finished 19-4. The Wildcats moved onto the championship, ultimately beating another team that topped Maryland last spring: Syracuse.
The Orange eked out a 10-9 win over the Terps on March 10, 2012 in College Park. Sunday, fourth-ranked Maryland seeks its revenge at the Carrier Dome, where second-ranked Syracuse awaits for the rematch.
“Looking forward to having the chance to play again,” Maryland Coach Cathy Reese said. “This time, it’ll be new for us, being up in the Dome. Haven’t been there before with this crew. Both teams are very similar. We’re both athletic and fast, we like to take a lot of shots and attack. Our focus has just been on us and trying to get better from our last game.”
The 1 p.m. matchup figures to unfold differently than Maryland’s season opener, when the Terps destroyed Richmond 20-7 behind three goals and two assists from senior Katie Schwarzmann, a first-team all-American and the national midfielder of the year. Schwarzmann had two goals in a 10-9 loss to the Orange last season, which snapped Maryland’s 36-game home winning streak.
“I think both of us are in the same boat,” Reese said. “Syracuse had a really early win in January over Jacksonville too. I think it’s great. We look forward to playing, having great competition.
“There’s a lot of respect for their team, and what they’ve done. For them to have made it to the national championship game last year, returning a lot of their players, we expect it to be a tough battle on Sunday. I think if anything, for us, it’ll show us the areas we need to improve on as we head into this 2013 season.”
But topping the Spiders was a relative cakewalk compared to the challenge that awaits at Syracuse, an early marquee opponent that serves less as a barometer for both sides than simply an exciting opportunity.
“Personally, I don’t chalk much up to it,” Reese said. “I think it’s a chance for us to find out what we need to continue to improve on. It’s hard after a while, when you’re just playing yourself. It’ll give us an idea of where we are as a team, not necessarily where we are across the board.”
In the week since routing Richmond, the Terps haven’t undergone any drastic changes. Rather, it’s just tightening and tweaking an already veteran lineup that started five freshmen last season. In addition to Schwarzmann, Maryland starts Alex Aust, another all-American, and senior Iliana Sanza, the 2012 ACC defensive player of the year, in addition to a host of sophomores.
“I’m looking forward to seeing if that confidence helps them,” Reese said. “It’s all sort of new right now, seeing what we can get out of our players and who’s going to step onto the field and compete and do what we ask.