February 23, 2011

NCAA Preview: No. 1 Maryland

by Nelson Coffin | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.

MEN: 10 COR | 9 HOF | 8 DUKE | 7 UND | 6 PTON | 5 MD | 4 SB | 3 UNC | 2 UVA | 1 CUSE
WOMEN: 10 UND | 9 JMU | 8 PENN | 7 UVA | 6 GTOWN | 5 CUSE | 4 DUKE | 3 UNC | 2 NW | 1 MD

NO. 1 MARYLAND

Karri Ellen Johnson's streak of 47 consecutive games with a goal was snapped over the weekend against Penn State, but she remains the nation's most dangerous all-around player.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Head Coach: Cathy Reese
Conference: ACC
2010 Records: 22-1, 4-1
2011: Schedule

KEY PLAYERS

A Karri Ellen Johnson (Jr.)
A do-it-all first-team All-American, as adept in shooting (52 percent) and scoring (69g) as she is on draw controls (71) and caused turnovers (24). "From a coach's perspective, she's just fun to watch — so creative and an outstanding shooter-scorer," Reese said.

A Sarah Mollison (Sr.)
Playmaker produced 45g, 30a and totaled 29 draw controls. "Sarah has been on three (Australian) World Cup teams," Reese said. "That's a lot of experience that can really help us." Looking to raise .450 shooting rate.

M/D Katie Gallagher (Sr.)
Defensive anchor returns to backline after missing last season due to injury. Big things expected from current captain who started all but one game for the ACC champion Terps in 2009. Might have to become more offensive-minded to help Terps overcome loss of steady Brittany Jones.

STRENGTHS

 • Loads of talent at both ends — and middle — of field keeps opposing coaches up at night
• Medical redshirts' return

WEAKNESSES

• Replacing Tewaaraton winner McFadden and standout sidekicks Amanda Spinnenweber and Brittany Jones
• Finding enough scoring from role players to prevent slides to stars

BEST CASE

No McFadden? No problem. Promising sophomore Alex Aust and newcomer Brooke Griffin pick up the slack in seamless transition to keeping the midfield mighty.

WORST CASE

Lack of leadership causes Terps to stumble along without the focus all defending champs need to repeat.

SLEEPER

D Iliana Sanza (Soph.)
Interception in closing moments against Northwestern keyed victory. “She was an absolute stud in the championship game,” Reese said. Still accelerates with the best of them, despite knee injuries at St. Paul’s School for Girls (Md.) and with the Terps.

RIVAL COACH'S TAKE

"Maryland is the team to beat. Winning and having that mental confidence of being the national champion really allows you to take your game to the next level. You know you can do it. That belief is very strong in getting people to buy in."

"They didn't lose that much. They're a tremendous athletic team. They're the team to beat. They lost some big guns, but they have a lot returning. They're big and athletic and fast. They'll have another tremendous year."

"They lost a lot of kids, but this is a team that plays free and together. They're not going to be upset if they give up some goals because they feel like they can score against anybody."

WHAT'S NEW?

An emphasis on defense could make the usually high-powered Terp offense take a back seat to a refurbished, rejuvenated and reliable backline.

WHAT'S NOT?

As usual, Maryland is well represented on the U.S. national team with current players Poist and Schwartzmann joining grads Acacia Walker and McFadden.

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Maryland was only 29th in the nation in draw controls last season, averaging just 13 per game.


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