Denver Women’s Lacrosse travels to the Belly of the Beast

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Athletics. DU’s standout goalie, Carson Gregg, is a key to this season’s success

Denver Women’s Lacrosse Travels to play the Maryland Terrapins Saturday afternoon in the NCAA quarterfinals – and it will not be an easy assignment.

Maryland women’s lacrosse (19-1) has won 14 national championships and is the top overall seed yet again this season. To add to the challenge, unseeded Denver (16-3) must travel to College Park, Maryland to play the vaunted Terps on their home turf.

Maryland is a flashy offensive force with 319 goals for the season. However, a scrappy Denver defense has forced 33% more turnovers and won 20% more ground balls than Maryland. Add a fast track at Maryland with a forecast partly cloudy weather and 80 degrees, Denver can ill afford to get into a shootout or a track meet.

The coach of the Terrapins, Cathy Reese, returned to Maryland after spending her first three seasons as head coach at the University of Denver. While at Denver, she guided the Pioneers to their second most successful season in school history at the time with a 16-5 record. One of the most successful coaches in women’s lacrosse history, the former Maryland standout and three-time National Coach of the Year Reese has led the Terps to four National Championships, 10 Final Fours and 19 Conference Championships in only 12 years as head coach. Tierney-esque to say the least.

But, DU head coach Liza Kelly has countered by matching or beating Reese’s best winning mark in six of the last 12 seasons at Denver. The move to the BIG EAST has bolstered Denver’s ability to recruit talent from the east coast and in only their third season in the BIG EAST, Kelly guided her team to a regular season championship and a double-OT loss to Georgetown in this season’s BIG EAST Tournament. So, it comes as no surprise that Kelly has elevated the program to its first-ever NCAA Elite Eight this season.

No doubt, the match-up will be a challenging one. Here are 3 keys to a Denver win:

  • Muck it up on the back end. With the #2 goalie in the country, Carson Gregg, and the #1 scoring defense, limit the quality of Maryland’s shot opportunities.
  • Win the little things. Draw controls, ground balls, turnovers and clears may spell the difference. The Pioneers must win and control possessions.
  • Don’t allow Terrapin ‘runs’. Counter the Terrapins goals. With 15.94 goals per game, Maryland is bound to score but must be held in check – especially early.

The match begins at 5:00 pm MT Saturday afternoon and can be seen at The Pioneer Bar or at home on the Big Ten Network (BTN).