2022 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 6 Maryland (Women)

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Hannah Leubecker finished 2021 with 58 goals.


The 2022 college lacrosse season is nearly upon us. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 6 MARYLAND

2021 Record: 10-7 (6-5 Big Ten)
Final Ranking (2021): No. 10
Coach: Cathy Reese (16th season)

Refreshed and reloaded, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team anticipates a return to normalcy in 2022. In College Park, that means getting back to championship weekend.

Prior to the pandemic, Maryland played in 11 straight final fours. Following a shortened 2020 season and conference-only campaign in 2021, coach Cathy Reese and company are poised for a comeback.

“Our team was so young,” Reese said. “We needed to grow and gain some experience. I’m glad that’s behind us and looking forward to what we can get back to in 2022.”

Eight of 12 starters return for the Terps, who added All-American caliber talent from the transfer portal and brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the country to shape a powerful lineup.

Maryland brings back stalwarts at attack (Hannah Leubecker), midfield (Grace Griffin) and defense (Tori Baretta). That alone would be enough for most teams, but Reese was able to add game changers on both ends of the field.

Canadian Aurora Cordingley (182 career points) transferred from rival Johns Hopkins, while All-Ivy League defender Abby Bosco (Penn) and America East Co-Defensive Player of the Year Clancy Rheude (Albany) will reinforce a defense that that graduated IWLCA Defender of the Year and Tewaaraton Award finalist Lizzie Colson.

“It’s been so much fun putting it together,” Reese said. “Our team really embraces the transfers who came in. They didn’t miss a beat. They’re really perfect fits for Maryland lacrosse.”

A two-way midfielder and third-year captain, Griffin sets the tone for Maryland. The Terps rely on her primarily as a one-on-one defender, but she also has a penchant for scoring clutch goals.

NIKE/USAL PRESEASON TOP 20
TEAM PREVIEWS

1. Boston College

2. North Carolina

3. Syracuse

4. Northwestern

5. Stony Brook

6. Maryland

7. Notre Dame

8. Duke

9. Loyola

10. Florida

11. Virginia

12. James Madison

13. Princeton

14. Stanford

15. Denver

16. Rutgers

17. Drexel

18. Jacksonville

19. UConn

20. Penn

“She brings a sense of confidence,” Reese said. “Coming back for a fifth year, being voted captain shows a sense of trust people have and how much we need her for us to be successful. We leaned a lot on her last year. It’ll be even more this year.”

Maryland has a pure scoring threat in Leubecker. No one knew what they were getting when she stepped on the field last year except maybe her coaches and teammates. Leubecker scored a dazzling 35 goals in her first eight games and finished the year with 58. How can she top that?

“We want to open her vision and see how she can move the ball out of a dodge,” Reese said. “That’s going to take her to a whole other level. We will use her in a way where [scoring] is not only her only job.”

Adding a former foe in Cordingley to quarterback the offense is a story of the rich getting richer. Cordingley showed at Hopkins that she can initiate plays from behind the goal or up top, Reese said. She’ll draw slides and free up space for Leubecker. Libby May (31 goals) also can’t go unnoticed. Younger players like Shaylan Ahearn, Victoria Hensh and Eloise Clevenger will have expanded roles in 2022.

Defensively, Maryland allowed 12.5 goals per game last year. Baretta, Bosco, Rheude and senior Maddie Sanchez comprise the unit in front of incumbent goalie Emily Sterling.

“We are trying to get [the transfers] on the same page alongside Tori and Maddie,” Reese said of the new mix of defenders. “We’re just trying to build our system. Everyone has different backgrounds.”

Sterling started 16 games in 2021 but will be pushed by freshman Emily Lamparter, rated as the top goalie in her class.






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TOP RETURNERS

Grace Griffin, M, Gr.

Maryland’s student-athlete of the year and a Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient, Griffin returns for a fifth season and is a captain for the third time. Griffin will be the team’s offensive heartbeat in both production and leadership. A throwback two-way middie, Griffin finished 2021 with 29 goals, 19 assists, 30 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers.

Tori Barretta, D, Gr.

Barretta will be tasked with leading a more experienced Terp defense in 2022. Barretta improved game-over-game in 2021, peaking with a wonderful performance in the Big Ten tournament. She started all 17 games, tallying 25 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers.

Hannah Leubecker, A, Jr.

A true goal scorer, Leubecker is set to back up a sensational 2021 start that earned her spots on various All-America teams and a spot on the Tewaaraton Award watch list. Adding another dimension beyond pure scoring could make Maryland’s offense a nightmare for opposing defenses.

KEY ADDITION

Aurora Cordingley, A, Gr.

One of the best players in John Hopkins’ Division I history, Cordingley brings her talent and experience to College Park. An All-American with the Blue Jays, Cordingley and her productive ways could fill the void left by Brindi Griffin’s graduation.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE

Eloise Clevenger, M, So.

Highly touted coming out of high school, Clevenger had a bit of a coming out party in the NCAA tournament with a three-point effort against High Point. She’ll get plenty of run in her second year as the offense reloads.

“She can be behind the cage, roll the crease, she can be in front and catch and score,” Reese said. “She has lots of strengths. I’m excited to see her breakout and watch her shine.”

ENEMY LINES

What rival coaches say about the Terrapins:

“Everyone forgets that two years ago they lost an entire starting lineup, and it was a COVID year. They added strong players. You saw them coming on a little later in the season, and they had some great NCAA tournaments games. I would expect Cathy Reese to be ready to go and ready to compete.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

55.3%

The Terps are losing a lot of production from last year’s team. Lizzie Colson, Catie May and Brindi Griffin all were key contributors for Maryland in 2021, and all have moved on. But it’s not as dire as it looks. Maryland’s incoming transfers generated 55.3 worth of EGA (expected goals) last season, which is the second-most of any Division I women’s lacrosse team that has published their 2022 roster. — Zack Capozzi

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