Rebuilding a defense in women's lacrosse often takes time, because the players have to develop the cohesion to be stingy as a unit, but Maryland's new defense hasn't needed much time to excel.

In just their third game of the season, the Terps gave defending national champion North Carolina's powerhouse offense more than it could handle in Saturday's 13-10 upset victory. With the Tar Heels dominating the draw, 18-7, the Terps defense had a lot of extra work to do to make sure those possessions didn't turn into goals. Even with that edge, the Tar Heels only managed one more shot that the Terps.


"I think our defense played really well," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said, "and that was nice because you've got Marissa Donoghue back there and Meghan Doherty, who just haven't played before in any of these kinds of games. And [goalie] Megan Taylor coming into her second year, she anchors it all, so I thought our D did a really nice job of coming up with one-possession kinds of plays, like they would take a shot and we would either come up with it or run it down on the side or behind or cause a turnover, and that was the key to our success."

Despite graduating their defensive leaders, Alice Mercer and Taylor Cummings, the Terps did return four defensive starters — Nadine Hadnagy, Julia Braig (St. Paul's), Morgan Torggler (Severna Park) and Alex McKay (Marriotts Ridge) — as well as Taylor (Glenelg). They've added Doherty (Mount Hebron), who sat out last season with and injury, and Donoghue (Century), who saw limited action last season as a freshman. Veteran midfielders Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge) and Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) also play key roles.

Together they've limited opponents to 8.7 goals per game and a .333 shooting percentage as the Terps assumed the No. 1 ranking and dropped the Tar Heels to No. 2.

"You play a team like North Carolina who's so talented. Every player out there is dangerous. Every player is a threat, so you can't hide on defense or a team like that is going to find a way to score, to capitalize on it," Reese said. "For us, our defense was getting our slides where we need to, but we were causing turnovers and coming up with loose balls and then there's a lot of pressure on Nadine transitioning the ball out and she did a fantastic job."

The Terps are back in action Saturday at Hofstra before starting a four-game homestand that includes No. 4 Syracuse and their Big Ten opener against conference newcomer No. 18 Johns Hopkins on March 19.

Three Terps, 13 locals named to Tewaaraton watch list: Hadnagy, Stukenberg and Megan Whittle were among 13 players with local ties named to the initial women's lacrosse Tewaaraton Award watch list announced Tuesday night.

Johns Hopkins had two players on the list, Emily Kenul and Haley Schweizer while Loyola Maryland's Bailey Mathis and Towson's Kaitlyn Montalbano were also nominated.

The list includes eight women who played high school lacrosse in the Baltimore area -- Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge), Whittle (McDonogh); Florida's Taylor Bresnahan (South River) and Sammi Burgess (McDonogh); Penn State's Madison Carter (South River), Steph Lazo (St. Mary's) and Abby Smucker (C. Milton Wright); and Princeton's Ellie DeGarmo (Bryn Mawr).

Maryland has dominated the award in recent years, with Terps winning six of the past seven. Taylor Cummings (McDonogh) became the first three-time winner — men's or women's — last year. Katie Schwarzmann (Century) won in 2012 and 2013. Caitlyn (McFadden) Phipps won in 2010.

In 2001, Maryland's Jen Adams, now the Loyola coach, won the first Tewaaraton awarded.

Players can be added to the list twice before it is whittled to 25 on April 27. Five finalists will be announced on May 11, and they will be invited to the 17th annual Tewaaraton Award Ceremony on June 1 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington.

Towson grad Hicklen excelling against top competition: Florida goalie Haley Hicklen turned in two of the best performances of her career against the top two teams the No. 3 Gators have faced this season.

Last week, the sophomore Towson graduate made a career-high 13 saves and had a .565 save percentage in a 15-10 upset of then-No. 3 USC. On Feb. 11, she had 12 saves in a 13-10 loss to then-No. 1 North Carolina.

Last season, Hicklen played behind Notre Dame Prep graduate Mary-Sean Wilcox, but she made it into all 18 games and started the second half in almost all of them. She finished with a .559 save percentage as a freshman.


Quick hits: James Madison coach Shelley Klaes Bawcombe, who played high school lacrosse at Loch Raven, became the Dukes' all-time winningest coach with 119 victories. ... Bresnahan has 70 career caused turnovers, tying for the most in Gators history. ... Lazo has dished out 16 assists in the first five games to lead Division I. She also has 34 points, third in the country.