Quick study: Fresh­man lifts Ter­rap­ins

Hartshorn is in con­trol as Mary­land women play for 13th NCAA ti­tle

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY RO­MAN STUBBS ro­man.stubbs@wash­post.com

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.

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