Quick study: Freshman lifts Terrapins
Hartshorn is in control as Maryland women play for 13th NCAA title
foxborough, mass. — Maryland women’s lacrosse Coach Cathy Reese made perhaps her boldest move back before the season began. Reese needed a replacement on draw controls following the graduation of Taylor Cummings, one of the most decorated players in NCAA history who had started in the faceoff circle all four years for the Terrapins.
So Reese turned to someone who hadn’t yet played a game for her. Reese simply told Kali Hartshorn: “You’re taking the draw for us.” Hartshorn knew the history she was following, yet she never shriveled after Reese threw her into the deep end.
“So here she comes as a freshman,” Reese said with a grin after her team dominated Penn State, 20-10, on Friday night to advance to Sunday’s national championship game against Boston College largely because Hartshorn won nine draws. “We throw her into the center of the circle and we say, go. And she has continued to get better throughout this season.”
So much will be familiar for Reese and the top-seeded Terrapins (22-0) as they make their fifth consecutive title game appearance Sunday, considered a heavy favorite even though unseeded Boston College (17-6) will be playing in its own back yard at Gillette Stadium. The Eagles, who are making their first appearance in the Final Four, held off Navy, 16-15, in the late semifinal Friday.
Reese will recognize the face on the other sideline — Boston College Coach Acacia Walker is a Maryland alum — and her players will be comfortable with the stakes as they try to claim the program’s 13th NCAA title. Maryland’s 10-player senior class, led by Tewaaraton Award finalists Zoe Stukenberg and defender Nadine Hadnagy, can win their third national championship in four years.
Maryland’s ninth consecutive Final Four appearance has also once again provided a bright stage for the program’s next wave of players. That includes Hartshorn, who has won 105 draws, the most by a Terrapins freshman in program history. That stands fifth all time for a season in program history and has provided a swift answer to a major question for the Terrapins entering the year.
“Just heart and hustle. I just wanted to focus one draw at a time, and I think that’s what really helped me go throughout the game,” Hartshorn said after her performance Friday night.
Hartshorn has other gifts: While sophomore Jen Giles recorded four goals and four assists in another breakout performance against the Nittany Lions on Friday night, Hartshorn also scored four goals in the blowout win. But Hartshorn has also made her name as the heir apparent to Cummings in the faceoff circle. She has done so with ruthless self-assessment during her freshman season.
“She critiques herself,” Reese said.
Hartshorn struggled on faceoffs against Penn State during the regular season meeting in late April, when she recorded just four draw controls as Maryland eked out a 16-14 victory. She took Friday’s rematch personally, winning the game’s first seven draws to help Maryland set the tone. Her nine draw controls tied a career high.
“I wanted to make sure personally that I could step up and try to help the team on the draw side. I think what just went right is the team chemistry, like all my teammates were behind me 100 percent,” said Hartshorn, who is from Allentown, N.J. “After every goal they were like, good job, keep going. I think that really helped me.”
Aside from boasting the country’s seventh-best scoring offense, Boston College also entered the Final Four with a program-record 340 draw controls and has three players who have recorded 40 or more. When these teams met in College Park in early March, a 21-13 Maryland win, Hartshorn won six draw controls to help the Terrapins hold a 20-16 edge in that category. At that point, it had been less than a month since Reese had given Harsthorn the lofty responsibility of starting in the faceoff circle after four years of Cummings.
“I think the experiences she’s gained throughout this season, she just keeps continuing to get better, and so that is a big part of, I think, her success,” Reese said.