Maryland's schedule for the first Big Ten women's lacrosse season features some things old and some things new as the Terps leave behind a couple of storied rivalries to face a new conference and new foes, including a first meeting with Florida.
The defending national champion Terps, who return 11 starters including Tewaaraton Award winner Taylor Cummings, will begin a regular rivalry with Northwestern. The two are the most successful programs in Division I college lacrosse history and are coached by former Terps All-Americans, Cathy Reese at Maryland and Kelly Amonte-Hiller at Northwestern.
The Terps have won a record 12 national titles, including two of the past five and seven in a row between 1995 and 2001. The Wildcats, whose program was resurrected in 2002 after a nine-year stint as a club team, have won seven national championships in the past 10 years.
Last season, the Terps defeated the Wildcats in the national semifinals, 9-6. The Wildcats have been to 10 straight national semifinals while the Terps have been to five straight and 22 in program history. The two have met in the NCAA finals or semifinals four of the past five years with the Terps winning titles in 2010 and 2014 over Northwestern and the Wildcats beating Maryland in the 2011 final and the 2012 semifinal.
As Maryland joins Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Rutgers in the Big Ten, the Terps let go of some of their strongest Atlantic Coast Conference rivals. They will not play Duke or Virginia this year but will face North Carolina, which was the only team to beat the 23-1 Terps last season and also edged Maryland in triple overtime to win the 2013 national title.
The Terps' 17-game schedule also features a rematch of last year's national final with former ACC rival Syracuse. The Terps won the title game, 15-12, over the Orange. Ten other teams that made last season's NCAA tournament are also on Maryland's schedule.
"This season holds a lot of exciting challenges because so much of it is unknown," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said in a statement. "We're playing Florida for the first time ever; we're reigniting local rivalries against Georgetown and [Johns] Hopkins. Then we begin a difficult conference slate in our first season in the Big Ten. It's an exciting season for us because we don't know what to expect."
The Terps will play 12 games in-state, including at Towson and at Johns Hopkins. Although they play at Northwestern, they will host most of their top opponents, including Syracuse, Florida, North Carolina and Penn State.
The season opens Feb. 15 at William & Mary with the home opener on Feb. 21 against North Carolina. They open the Big Ten season at Northwestern on March 26.
Maryland also hosts UMBC, Penn, Rutgers, Princeton and Michigan and has additional road games against Hofstra, Georgetown and Ohio State.