Maryland women's lacrosse didn't react to its first regular-season defeat in almost four years as one might expect.
Rather than lamenting a 16-15 overtime loss at North Carolina on Saturday, the No. 1 Terps remained upbeat about how they could use the setback to their advantage.
As the nation's top-ranked squad following an undefeated national title run in 2017, Maryland faced high expectations entering this season. Even though perfection is now unattainable, coach Cathy Reese said losing for the first time in 57 regular-season games provided some relief from that pressure.
"I think we can kind of take a deep breath and reset and get back to focusing on us," Reese said. "Sometimes you don't evaluate yourself and your performance enough when you're winning."
When asked whether the loss raised concerns or significant changes needed to be made, Reese's response was quick: "No, absolutely not." And though Reese had some criticisms of her team's play, she wasn't upset by the nature of the loss against a team Maryland has always fought tooth and nail with over the years.
"This has been just a great rivalry of two of the best teams in the sport," Reese said. "Obviously it's a tough loss on the road, but [it was] against a really tough Carolina team and I think it was a great game. It was competitive the whole way, it was a hard fought game. It's a typical Maryland-Carolina matchup, it just didn't end up going into overtime ending in our favor."
The Terps also stressed they were eager to use the game as a learning experience, especially because it was against a top-10 team.
Goalkeeper Megan Taylor even said she enjoyed the game.
"We're all competitors here. We come to Maryland to win and we want to be challenged to win, and to be in a situation like that is a fun experience," Taylor said. "Big, close games are fun just because we're so competitive with each other."
Still, the Terps want to improve with their on-field communication, executing slides on defense and taking better care of the ball on offense. They committed 15 turnovers against the Tar Heels.
Those are areas they'll work on tuning up in practice this week before facing UMBC.
"Yeah, today wasn't great, but I think we have a lot of potential and I'm excited to see where the season takes us," attacker Megan Whittle said. "What's telling about our team is the way we react to this loss, and I think that is what will define our character and define how the rest of the season will go."