COLLEGE PARK — Even though Maryland went into halftime of Saturday's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse tournament quarterfinal against Duke with a six-goal lead, the No. 1 Terps wanted to make a statement coming out of the break.
They emerged from the locker room to score three goals in the first three minutes to all but seal a 15-8 victory at Maryland's Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex and earn their 22nd overall — and sixth straight — trip to the final four.
"We came out of halftime with a lot of fire," Terps midfielder Taylor Cummings said. "We knew that it wasn't over yet and Duke was going to come out ready to go. I think we did a great job of setting the tone for the second half really early. We got a couple of quick goals, and I think that told them that, 'You're going to have to beat us, and it's going to be tough.' "
Cummings (McDonogh), a Tewaaraton Award finalist, scored twice and Kelly McPartland added a third goal, all within 34 seconds, to boost the Terps lead to 12-3 shortly into the third quarter. Although the Blue Devils cut the margin to 12-5, they never got closer.
The Terps (21-1) will go after their 12th national championship when they meet No. 5 Northwestern, a 12-11 overtime winner over No. 4 Florida, in the national semifinals Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium. Maryland, which fell to North Carolina in triple overtime in last year's title game, won its last title in 2010.
In Saturday's all-Atlantic Coast Conference battle with Duke, Cummings and Beth Glaros, the Terps' only starting senior, combined for eight goals after contributing 11 in Maryland's 19-10 victory over the Blue Devils earlier this year. They also combined for 11 draw controls in Saturday's win, their fourth straight over the Blue Devils (11-8).
Cummings, an All-American last year as a freshman, scored five goals Saturday, but the biggest were the two to start the second half. With that three-goal opening run, the Terps put the finishing touch on a six-goal run that started with goals from Brooke Griffin, Zoe Stukenberg and McPartland in the final 2:27 of the first half.
"We just wanted to be prepared for anything," Reese said. "We played them early in the season [March 1] … so we worked on a lot of different things in practice. Some we saw; some we didn't, but it was more about us and our focus of trying to execute. I think they started to take us out of our rhythm a little bit there in the second half, and we had to regroup in a timeout just to make sure we were being confident and poised when we had the ball."
Coming into the game, the Blue Devils had held each of their previous four opponents — including North Carolina in a 7-6 overtime upset in the ACC tournament — to eight goals or less. The Terps scored nine goals by halftime.
The Blue Devils defense that included All-American Taylor Virden, one of Cummings' former teammates at McDonogh, forced 12 Terps turnovers, and goalie Kelsey Duryea made eight saves. But Duke never managed any consistency on offense. Maryland outshot the Blue Devils 28-20 overall and 15-7 in the first half.
"We never put ourselves in position to create any good momentum," Duke coach Kerstin Kimel said. "Even after we scored, we didn't necessarily win the next draw or make a stop defensively. You have to be able to do something to gain momentum in a game, and we struggled with that."
The Terps, who are in the NCAA tournament for the 25th consecutive year, have won eight straight games since falling to North Carolina, 17-15.
In that span, the defense, led by Tewaaraton finalist Megan Douty, has allowed only one opponent — Virginia Tech in a 22-12 game — to score more than nine goals. They lead all teams in the final four in scoring defense, allowing 7.86 goals per game this season.
Duke 3 5 -- 8
Maryland 9 6 -- 15
Goals: D—Mauer 3, Smith 3, Morrissey, Landon; M—Cummings 5, Glaros 3, McPartland 3, Griffin, Collins, Stukenberg, Lamon. Assists: D—Landon, Acton; M—Griffin 2, Glaros, McPartland, Stukenberg. Saves: D—Duryea 8; M—Clipp 7.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun