Newcomers Erica Evans, Tayler Warehime add to expectations for Maryland, North Carolina women’s lacrosse

One is a lacrosse midfielder who will turn 23 in less than two months, was awarded an extra year of eligibility because of a season-ending knee injury and went to Poland to play for Team Canada at the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup.

The other is an attacker who is still 18, has just begun her college career and is a year removed from getting her driver’s license.

On paper, there don’t seem to be too many similarities between Maryland’s Erica Evans and North Carolina’s Tayler Warehime. But when the No. 3 Terps (2-0) welcome the No. 2 Tar Heels (3-0) to Maryland Stadium in College Park on Sunday, the one link tying the two players is how their recent arrivals to their respective teams have fortified grander expectations.

Evans, a graduate transfer from Canisius, was an All-World selection who played a role in Canada winning the silver medal at the 2017 World Games and a Tewaaraton Award semifinalist as a junior in 2017. Warehime, a freshman from Hampstead and a Manchester Valley graduate, was a two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro pick and the No. 19 freshman in the class of 2019, according to Inside Lacrosse.

Another commonality is how quickly the newcomers downplayed those forecasts.

“I don’t really focus on things like that,” Evans said Tuesday. “I’m kind of focused on what I can do individually for myself and what I can do for the team. There are so many talented players on the team, and it’s hard to stop just one of us in a sense. We have such seven strong players on offense that it’s going to be really hard for anybody in the country to stop us, I think. So just being able to be a part of that group is awesome. I think each and every one of us can do amazing things, and I just want to do my part.”

“It’s definitely an honor, but I know that it just motivates me to want to get better,” Warehime said. “Definitely coming into the college level, I want to up my game and make it harder for defenders to attack me.”

Unlike Warehime, Evans’ career started elsewhere. In three years for the Golden Griffins, she rewrote seven school records (including two of her own), became the program’s all-time leader in goals (186), and set single-season marks in goals (76), points (108) and ground balls (69).

But Evans’ senior year ended before it began when she tore the ACL in her right knee during a fall exhibition at Loyola Maryland on Oct. 22, 2017. Electing to use her final season of eligibility at Maryland, Evans is tied for second on the team in assists (two) and tied for fourth in points (six).

“I just want to go out and play my best,” she said. “I am still returning from an injury and so obviously, I’m a little bit nervous to get back out there. But I want to contribute as much as I can, and the girls make that easy for me just clearing lanes and just being wide open in the middle. That makes my job very easy.”

Terps coach Cathy Reese said Evans — who is taking graduate classes in supply chain management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business — has meshed easily with starting midfielders Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) and Grace Griffin (Liberty).

“She is such a talented player at both ends of the field,” Reese said. “She is a great offensive player and excellent dodger. She has tremendous speed in her transition game, and she’s really working hard to get adjusted to playing our style of defense. So we’ve watched her really improve in that area since the fall. So for us, she’s obviously a welcome addition to our group, and she’s an added dimension in our midfield along with Jen Giles and Grace Griffin. She gives us another threat and somebody that can run both ends of the field very well.”

Like Evans, Warehime’s adjustment to North Carolina has been instantaneous. She scored four goals in her debut in an 18-7 rout of 2018 NCAA champion James Madison on Feb. 9 and ranks second on the team in goals (seven).

Warehime said she is continuing to adjust to shifting from her usual midfielder position in high school, but has relied on the support of her teammates and coaches.

“Transitioning to college and playing attack, it’s definitely been a new experience for me playing a new position,” Warehime said, adding she is aiming to improve her stick work and lacrosse IQ. “But I’m just taking the things that I’m learning each and every day in practice and implementing them and really working at getting better at the little tiny things.”

Tar Heels coach Jenny Levy said Warehime has helped fill the void created by the graduation of three of last year’s top five scorers in midfielder Marie McCool (61 goals, 23 assists), attacker Ela Hazar (35, 47) and attacker-midfielder Maggie Bill (27, 17).

“What has separated Tayler is she’s a workhorse, she understands the game really well, she plays well with others,” Levy said. “She doesn’t try to do too much, but the things she does are going to be really elite. So we have a lot trust in her and a lot of faith in her. Even though she’s a younger player, she gets the job done.”

Had things turned out differently, Evans and Warehime might have been teammates. North Carolina was one of four programs Evans considered before opting for Maryland, while Warehime chose the Tar Heels over the Terps. Both players acknowledged the irony of trying to help their teams defeat one of their finalists.

“I knew it was going to happen either way,” Evans said. “They’re such a great team, and such good competition for Maryland to have so early, and I’m just excited to go out and play and be competitive.”

“Maryland is a great program, and I know our team has the utmost respect for them,” said Warehime, who anticipates about 20 family members attending Sunday’s game. “It’s a bit more personal to me because it was a school that I looked at, but I think it will be a great game.”

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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