There are few givens in sports. For the last decade, though, one given has been the Maryland women’s lacrosse team reaching the Final Four — entering this year, the Terps had made 11 straight national semifinals.
The freshmen on this year’s team were 7 or 8 years old when Coach Cathy Reese’s team last stumbled in the quarterfinal round or earlier.
For the first time in Reese’s career, she has to deal with a somewhat silent spring. Yes, she’s helping her four children with their pandemic-mandated home schooling, but she’s used to being a sounding board and mentor for her 30-plus players.
Instead, Reese has to coach and work with her student-athletes at a distance.
“I’m finding it very difficult, and I think probably most people who are coaches are, because we thrive on that and those relationships,” Reese said. “For me, it’s important to know what’s going on with my players and what’s going on with their heads and how they’re doing in every aspect of their life. We’re going to have good days and bad days, and be able give hugs and have those conversations. They’re the things that I love.”
This year’s team had to replace a four-year starter in goal after Megan Stanley’s graduation in 2019. It also returned just one defensive starter.
The Terps also lost all three of their 50-goal scorers from last year.
The 2020 season started with a 19-6 win at George Mason before the team dropped three straight games to nationally ranked Florida, North Carolina and Syracuse by the combined score of 44-25.
Despite posting three straight losses after not losing three regular season games in the previous five seasons, Reese’s team answered with victories over No. 17 Navy and Hofstra.
“We were just getting started. We had just a couple of games under our belt — played some great opponents, had a couple of tough losses and then some really good wins,” Reese said. “And we were certain to kind of settle in a little bit and figure out who we were. So that was really tough because we were on the right path.”
When the NCAA Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Tournaments were canceled, it was like reading a mystery novel only to find the last chapter clipped out. But for the spring sports, it’s as though the book has been taken away while one is still on the first chapter.
For Reese’s seniors, seven will move on to the next chapter of their lives not knowing how the 2020 story would have turned out. Instead of choosing to look at this book half-read, Reese views this senior class as a group of graduates fully appreciated.
“I’ve been fortunate that they chose Maryland all those years ago. I feel fortunate that I had a chance to have been a part of their lacrosse journey,” Reese said. “For me, it’s sad that it ended the way it did, but I know they’re all going to go on and crush what is next for them in life. I’m super proud of that, and we’ll definitely be sure to celebrate them appropriately in the fall.”
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