Six years ago, quarterback Aaron Rodgers famously told panicking fans of his Green Bay Packers team to relax. On Tuesday, coach Cathy Reese took a similar approach while defending her No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse team after a 1-2 start that includes the program’s first back-to-back losses in 14 seasons.
“It’s not like the sky is falling, but I know that sometimes it can feel that way when we’ve had the history and tradition that we’ve had,” said Reese, who has guided the Terps to five NCAA Division I championship since 2007. “We just need to continue to see the positive and keep working to get better. Yes, this is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to be a slow process, but we’ve got to keep working on it.”
Since a season-opening 19-6 rout of George Mason on Feb. 8, Maryland has been on the wrong end of a 15-14 outcome to then-No. 12 Florida on Feb. 15 and a 19-6 humbling to No. 1 North Carolina on Saturday.
Reese pointed out that an offense that launched 41 shots but only converted 34.1% of those attempts against the Gators was stifled by a Tar Heels defense that allowed only 19 shots and pounced on 15 turnovers. And the players are still trying to find some cohesion after the loss of eight starters (seven via graduation and senior defender Lizzie Colson via a season-ending ACL tear) from last year’s squad that went 22-1 and captured the Big Ten regular-season and NCAA titles.
“I said this during our media day: We’re not playing our best lacrosse now because we have so much room to grow and develop, and it’s definitely going to take a while when you’ve got four returning players on the field,” Reese said. “We want to be better faster, but we need to do a better job of preparing. We need to do a better job of being confident on the field, and this stuff will hopefully continue to grow as we work.”
The Terps’ next two opponents are No. 4 Syracuse (5-1) and No. 16 Navy (2-2). A setback to the Orange on Friday afternoon would tag the program with its first three-game losing skid since 2006, but Reese said griping about the schedule is pointless.
“There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself and no time to really sit there and think about it,” she said. “We’ve got to turn around and go.”
Lingner back to form for UMBC
On March 16, 2019, Tommy Lingner took a shot to his foot, suffering a bone bruise that eventually became a small fracture. The break forced him to sit out three games, including the UMBC men’s run to the America East tournament crown, before returning to help cement a victory over Marist in an NCAA tournament play-in game. The Retrievers were then get bounced from the postseason by No. 1 seed Penn State.
This season, after making 13 saves in a 14-8 loss to then-No. 15 Georgetown on Feb. 15, the junior goalkeeper totaled a career-high 16 saves in a 9-4 victory over Mount St. Mary’s to earn America East Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors. Lingner said he has appreciated competition from sophomore Jack Morton and freshman Christian Michaels to win the starting job in preseason.
“I always play better when I have competition behind me,” Lingner said. “I’ve said that since I came here when Coach [Ryan] Moran asked me if he could recruit another goalie in my freshman year. So having two guys behind me keeps me competitive and keeps me on my toes. I know that Coach Moran always emphasizes that nothing is handed to you and that you have to work for your spots. I really took that to heart and come out to practice every day and try to put my heart into it.”
Stats not priority for Hopkins’ Epstein
Despite posting one goal and one assist in Johns Hopkins’ 17-10 loss to then-No. 7 North Carolina on Saturday, sophomore attackman Joey Epstein groused about an ill-timed skip pass that was intercepted in the fourth quarter.
Epstein’s points were the first two of his season, which might usually be an encouraging sign for a player still playing with a large brace to protect the right knee that he injured in the preseason. But he was more concerned with trying to help the Blue Jays (1-2) snap a two-game losing streak.
“It’s not about the stats,” he said. “It’s about being out there when the team plays and doing what’s best for the team. It’s just fun being out there with the guys.”
>> Junior faceoff specialist Bailey Savio set a Patriot League and Loyola Maryland men’s record with 18 ground balls in Saturday’s 11-10 win against Rutgers. Savio eclipsed the conference record of 17 established by Navy’s Brady Dove on Oct. 25, 2017.
>> Senior midfielder Ethan Christensen became the eighth player in Stevenson men’s history to reach 200 career points when he compiled five points on two goals and three assists in Saturday’s 12-11 upset of then-No. York. He has 202 points.
>> The No. 5 Loyola Maryland women’s 17-6 thrashing of then-No. 3 Florida on Saturday was the Gators’ worst setback since Feb. 8, 2014, when that squad fell, 20-8, to North Carolina.
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>> The Navy women’s 12-9 loss to Villanova on Saturday was the program’s first to an unranked opponent since a 13-9 setback to Loyola Maryland on March 18, 2017, ending a 38-game winning streak against unranked opponents.