Maryland has the highest scoring offense in Division I women's lacrosse, but the Terps' attack needed a jump-start from its defense Saturday against James Madison.
After the No. 1 Terps (11-0) fell behind early, they used a stifling midfield defense to handcuff the No. 17 Dukes and start their offense rolling toward an 18-8 victory at Maryland's Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
The Dukes jumped out to a 2-0 lead, thanks in part to winning the first two draws and they shut out the Terps, who went into the game averaging 16.40 goals, for nearly 13 minutes.
When the Terps turned the game, however, they turned it quickly.
After Alex Aust fed Kristen Lamon for the first goal, the Terps scored four more times in less than five minutes. Taylor Cummings' transition goal made it 5-2 with 12:13 to go in the half, and the Dukes never again got within two.
Between Ali Curwin scoring the Dukes' second goal and Cummings' goal, Maryland forced seven James Madison turnovers.
"The last couple games, when teams are holding the ball on us, and when our shots aren't falling, we're working for each other and we're working really hard to get the ball back," Maryland senior Katie Schwarzmann said. "I think what's unique about our team is that we have ability to score settled offense or fast break, and when we got some of those turnovers, we really pushed the ball and found those open looks."
The Terps' pressure on the ride forced most of James Madison's 23 turnovers in the game. Maryland converted nine of them. Time and again, the Dukes struggled to move the ball forward and kept backing up into their defensive end.
"I'm not sure it's so much their ride as it is our mentality in the ride," Dukes coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe said. "I think it's a lack of confidence in our defensive ball handlers. Maryland has great speed, and I think we were a little intimidated by that speed, but in the end, I don't think it was their pressure as much as it was our indecisiveness. We didn't have an aggressive mentality."
The Dukes (5-3) stayed close into the second half on the stellar play of sophomore goalie Schylar Healy, a Liberty graduate. Healy made seven of her 11 saves in the first half — four in the first 13 minutes — but the Terps, who had a 37-14 advantage on shots, were much more efficient in the second half, scoring on 11 of 19 shots.
"Their goalie was really quick," Aust said. "I think a lot of times we thought we saw something open, and she would just shoot out there, so once we learned that, we just had to put our shots around her."
Aust finished with four goals and five assists. She got things started by feeding Lamon and then scored twice to give Maryland its first lead of the game, 3-2.
After the Terps made it 5-2, Dukes leading scorer Casey Ancarrow cut it to 5-3 on a feed from Amy Roguski, but Maryland answered with two quick goals. In the second half, the Dukes were within 8-5 after Julianne Giles' goal with 21:59 left before Aust sparked the run that put the game away.
She assisted three of the first four goals, including two to Lamon, as the Terps scored nine unanswered goals. Halle Majorana, who finished with three goals, converted an interception for a 17-5 lead with 9:21 left in the game.
Aust, the Terps' leading scorer with 37 goals and 35 assists, moved into fourth place on Maryland's career chart with 112 assists, passing Terps assistant coach Caitlyn McFadden and former assistant coach Quinn Carney, who are tied with 110.
JM 4 4 -- 8
M 7 11 -- 18
Goals: JM—Ancarrow 3, Roguski, Curwin, Finley, McLouth, Giles; M—Aust 4, Lamon 3, Majorana 3, Cummings 2, Schwarzmann 2, Griffin, McPartland, Collins, Salandra. Assists: JM—Ancarrow, Roguski, Curwin; M—Aust 5, Cummings, Glaros, McPartland. Saves: JM—Healy 11, M—Howard 2.