COLLEGE PARK -- In recent years, the Maryland women's lacrosse team has made a habit of racking up lopsided wins. This season, the Terrapins also have learned how to pull out the close ones.
For the fourth straight game, the No. 2 Terps went down to the final minutes Sunday against an opponent, surviving five ties before pulling away from No. 18 Virginia with five straight goals down the stretch in a 13-8 win in the final Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season matchup between the teams.
Following one-goal wins over Boston College and Princeton, and a two-goal loss to top-ranked North Carolina, Maryland players said the experience of playing in close games paid off in the second half Sunday.
"We've definitely played some really good teams the past couple weeks … so we know what the pressure is like, and we know kind of how to react now," Terps sophomore midfielder Taylor Cummings (McDonogh) said. "I think we did a really good job of keeping our composure and making good decisions."
Cummings had three goals and two assists to go along with five goals and an assist from redshirt junior attacker Brooke Griffin (South River), as Maryland (15-1, 5-1 in the ACC) won its ninth straight game against the Cavaliers (8-7, 2-4), who were coming off consecutive wins against top-10 opponents.
Courtney Swan and Kelly Boyd (St. Paul's) each scored a pair of goals for Virginia, which used its deliberate offensive style to dominate time of possession for most of the way, but hurt its own cause late with several unforced errors, managing just two goals in the second half.
"For the first 48 minutes we were pretty good, but then one mistake turned into a second," said Virginia coach Julie Myers, who had high praise for Terps redshirt junior goalie Abbey Clipp (Marriotts Ridge). "When Maryland need a save, they seemed to come up with it, and when we needed a stop in transition, we seemed to struggle with that."
Maryland controlled play early, building a 5-3 lead, which would've been even higher if not for several shots off goal posts and an apparent goal by freshman midfielder Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge) that was disallowed for an illegal stick midway through the half.
Trailing by two, however, the Cavaliers pulled even with consecutive goals, including Swan's effort in which she caught Boyd's feed and shot in the same motion.
Virginia never took the lead, but also never trailed by more then one until the final 12 minutes. That's when Maryland began to take over, with Cummings winning draw controls and the Terps defense coming up with several key stops.
"I'm really proud of the way we pulled it out in the end there," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. "We had a great second half, and we were able to play some better defense and come up with some stops."
Offensively, senior midfielder Beth Glaros (Wilde Lake) scored high to put the Terps ahead for good with 11:37 left, and Stukenberg and Cummings then followed to the seal the win.
Reese said the abundance of close-game experience will surely help her team come tournament time.
"We've had some close games. We've been down in games, been up in games, gone down to the last minute possessing the ball," Reese said. "I think its good to be experiencing all these different things."