A year ago, the University of Maryland women's lacrosse team ended an otherwise stellar season in disappointment, as they lost to North Carolina, 13-7, in the national championship game.
Terps head coach Cathy Reese said she didn't feel the need to keep bringing up the painful 2016 championship loss to the 2017 squad. Instead, she and the rest of the coaching staff and roster refocused and made sure to finish what they started this time.
After doing exactly that by defeating Boston College, 16-13, in the national championship game May 28, Reese said on Glenn Clark Radio May 31: "It was a new team, a new look and these guys did everything they could this year to be successful."
The victory marked the 13th national championship in the program's 43-year history and the fourth title with Reese as head coach, including the third championship in the past four years.
Reese played for the Terps from 1995 to 1998, and she not only won a national championship each year she played for Maryland, but she also finished her collegiate career with 140 goals and 77 assists and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Reese's success as coach has almost seamlessly carried over from her days as a player on the field.
"I work at a great university," Reese said, "I have such great players, my staff is phenomenal and we have a great culture here."
One of the toughest moments for head coaches is saying goodbye to the graduating seniors with whom they have formed bonds during the course of four years.
"It's always challenging every year for coaches, but I think at the end of all of it, you're just really proud and happy to have had the opportunity that you had and proud for what you know they're going to accomplish," Reese said.
Two seniors who finished their collegiate careers at Maryland with the national championship were midfielder Zoe Stukenberg, who received the Tewaaraton Award, and defender Nadine Hadnagy. Stukenberg totaled 53 goals and 31 assists in 2017, while Hadnagy, on defense, drew 25 fouls on opponents. Reese said the departures of Stukenberg, Hadnagy and the rest of the senior class makes her proud of the accomplishments they shared at Maryland and excited to see what the future holds for the former players.
"They've meant so much to me through the years that it's hard to imagine them moving on, but most importantly, they are such great people and they are going to go on to do great things in the world," Reese said. "That's something I'm really proud of."
The Maryland women's lacrosse program has become so dominant that the Terps have the capability to retool their team for NCAA runs in 2018 and beyond. It will allow some of the younger players the opportunity to gain more playing experience and potentially step into leadership roles. Among such players are rising senior attack Megan Whittle and rising sophomore midfielder Kali Hartshorn, who combined for 129 goals this past season.
"We'll fill spots with new faces, and it'll be a different look in 2018," Reese said. "We do return a lot of talented players, and we'll have a new class that will be coming into the mix."
For the first time, the women's lacrosse Final Four was played at the same venue -- Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. -- as the men's Final Four, and Reese said the crowd of more than 11,000 fans made the atmosphere even more riveting.
"It was a beautiful day," Reese said. "You could kind of see the excitement in the community about lacrosse."
She added that watching the Maryland men's lacrosse team also win a national championship with their 9-6 victory against Ohio State May 29 capped off a great weekend and proved how much of a lacrosse powerhouse the university has become.