The women's lacrosse team faced one of its toughest challenges in its opening game.
The University of Maryland came into Robins Stadium on Sunday ranked 4th in the country, and it showed why.
Despite four goals and one assist from senior attacker Sam Stevenson, the Terrapins got the best of the Spiders, 20-7.
"We need to win more draws and hold the ball on attack to keep the pressure off us and on our opponents," Stevenson said.
Sophomore midfielder Emily Doyle scored one minute and 46 seconds into the first half to tie the game at one, but then Maryland attackwoman Alex Aust scored back-to-back goals, and the Terps never looked back.
After Maryland midfielder Beth Glaros scored and Stevenson put the Spiders back in the game with her first goal of the game to make the score 4-2, Aust began an eight-goal run for the Terrapins with a sharp pass to set up midfielder Katie Schwarzmann's second goal of the game. Then Aust scored back-to-back goals again before leaving the game in the first half with several other Maryland starters.
"Maryland was a skilled team and was coached really well," said Allison Evans, Richmond lacrosse coach. "We made mental errors they took advantage of. They executed their game plan of hitting cutters with speed, and we couldn't cover them, which led to goals."
The Terps substituted often to stay fresh and kept possession in its attacking zone to tire the Spiders and prevent them from putting in fresh players. By the time Stevenson scored her second goal of the game and 100th of her career to end the Maryland run and make it 12-3, it was the end of the first half.
Richmond players had some lengthy possessions in the attacking zone to start the second half, but the Maryland defenders remained patient and alert, cutting off lanes for the Spiders to drive, pass or shoot, and ultimately forcing turnovers that led to counterattack goals. But Evans said she had been impressed by how the Spiders had moved with and without the ball and had passed in their attacking third.
"In the second half, we settled into our zone and did a better job of executing plays," Evans said. "The way we finished the game was representative of Richmond--not giving in and continuing to play until the end, still working hard."
With a 20-5 deficit and less than two minutes left, Stevenson assisted with fellow senior attacker Caitlin Fifield's goal and then score her last goal with 10 seconds left.
"We haven't really shown heart in past years when we've been down," Stevenson said, "and it's been nice to see that from the start this year."
Stevenson and Evans said the team's primary goal was to win the Atlantic 10 Conference and receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA published rankings that included conference standings predictions, in which officials picked the Spiders to finish in second in the conference behind the University of Massachusetts.
Contact reporter Zach Kerr at firstname.lastname@example.org