Maryland 15, Massachusetts 12

Maryland's Brooke Griffin shoots against Massachusetts in the second half. The Terps won, 15-12, in College Park in the first round of the NCAA tournament. (Photo for The Baltimore Sun by Doug Kapustin / May 12, 2012)

From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday, 20 members of the Maryland women's lacrosse team had final exams. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., they gave one to visiting Massachusetts.

The third-seeded Terps used their up-tempo, run-and-gun offense to go on a five-goal run midway through the second half and defeat the visiting Minutemen, 15-12, in a first-round NCAA tournament game.

Maryland (18-3) was led by Brooke Griffin (South River), Kelly McPartland and Kristy Black (Glenelg), who each scored three goals. Jesse O'Donnell, Tanner Guarino and Nina Sarcona scored three goals apiece for UMass.

The Terps will host Saturday's Division I quarterfinal at noon against the winner of Sunday's Loyola-Pennsylvania game.

One of the most crucial stretches the game was the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. With the Terps leading 7-5 and less than a minute left in the half, the Minutemen (19-2) held the ball, waiting for a good shot. The Maryland defense held, forcing a turnover to run out the clock.

Maryland wasted little time extending its lead in the second half. The Terps won the draw, and McPartland fired the ball to an open Griffin, who deposited it past UMass keeper Katie Florence to extend the lead to 8-5 just 13 seconds in.

"Our team has the ability to turn it on and play in the moment," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. "We got the draw, and we made things happen. They chose to hold the ball today, and I think we learned to make every possession count."

UMass managed to keep the game close, narrowing the gap to 10-7 when Sarcona scored with 18:23 left. Then the Terps turned on their high-powered offense.

First it was Griffin hitting McPartland in stride with a pass for an open shot in front of the goal with 17:41 left, then Alex Aust scored on a nice shot in traffic in front of the goal at 12:34 to run the lead to 12-7. Griffin (at 11:45), Century alum Katie Schwarzmann (at 11:24), and Black (at 6:47) also found the net to run the lead to 15-7 with 6:47 left to play.

The Minutemen weren't done, adding five goals to account for the final margin.

The Terps did a great job frustrating UMass' Katie Ferris. Ferris, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, had only one goal and left the game with 9:57 remaining after receiving her second yellow card.

"She's a pretty talented player," Reese said. "We just tried to limit her chances, and we challenged her. They had some other players who stepped up in her absence."

Asked whom she would rather play on Saturday, Reese smiled.

"It's all about Maryland," she said. "It really doesn't matter. If we step on the field and execute on offense and defense, then whatever happens, happens."

Goals: MA—O'Donnell 3, Guarion 3, Sarcona 3, Ferris, Terracciano, Defliese; MD—Griffin 3, McPartland 3, Black 3, Schwarzmann 2, Aust 2, Johnson, Mendez.

Assists: MA—Ferris, Houlis, Terracciano; MD—Griffin 3, Schwarzmann 3, Aust, Johnson, McPartland.

Saves: MA—Florence 6, Vallarelli 3; MD—Dipper 4.

Half: MD, 7-5.