Four days after the emotional high of its biggest win of the season, the top-ranked Maryland women's lacrosse team took the field Wednesday against No. 13 Princeton, keenly aware of the potential for a letdown.
That letdown indeed came in the second half — but not before the host Terps had the game well in hand.
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Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD 20740, USA
Maryland won the first four draws, got off 11 of the first 12 shots and built a seven-goal lead by halftime, surviving Princeton's second-half run before pulling away for a 15-9 win at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.
"It's a midweek game coming off that big win. This is a game that teams lose," Maryland senior Alex Aust said. "But we came out today with a lot of energy."
Aust had three goals and four assists to lead Maryland (15-0), which on Saturday edged No. 2 North Carolina, 14-13, before a record home crowd. Aust was one of four players with three goals as the Terps outshot the Tigers 36-19 to earn their eighth win this season against a nationally ranked opponent.
Erin McMunn, a two-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week from Winters Mill, led Princeton (7-4) with two goals and two assists. But 16 turnovers doomed the Tigers, who lost for the first time in five games while allowing their highest goal total this season.
"We were a step behind defensively, and they were killing us off the cuts," Princeton coach Chris Sailer said. "Then when we got the ball, we had turnovers."
Where Maryland uncharacteristically struggled, however, was on draws, winning the first four before losing 15 of the next 22.
Down 10-2 early in the second half, Princeton and McMunn began to dominate in the circle, scoring four straight goals in a span of 3:43 to pull within four.
Minutes later, after the Terps' Beth Glaros (Wilde Lake) had broken the string with a goal of her own, the Tigers made it 11-7 when McMunn scored high off a feed from Alexandra Bruno.
"I thought we had a letdown in the second half," Maryland coach CathyReese said. "We just gave up too many opportunities, and we need to do better than that. … We slowed down a little bit."
But that was as close as Princeton would get.
For Maryland, the game exposed plenty of areas in need of touching up before the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, which begins in two weeks.
"We had moments of greatness out there, and I think it's hard to do that for a full 60 minutes," Aust said. "I think we get a little complacent and need to work on being more disciplined."