Maryland's Taylor Cummings scored three goals in Sunday night's NCAA Division I women's lacrosse championship, but her most important contribution wasn't on the attacking end.
The sophomore midfielder from McDonogh dominated the draws, giving the top-seeded Terps the majority of possession and a five-goal jump on second-seeded Syracuse en route to a 15-12 victory for Maryland's 11th NCAA championship before an announced title-game record crowd of 10,311 at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
In the all-Atlantic Coast Conference national championship, the Terps (23-1) built a seven-goal lead on Beth Glaros' score with 11 minutes left and held off a late rally to defeat the Orange (21-3) for the third time this season. The Orange players were aiming to win not only their first national title, but also the first for a women's sport in school history.
Glaros, Maryland's only starting senior and a Wilde Lake graduate, finished with five goals, the second most in a championship game. She was named to the all-tournament team.
"Having been to three finals fours already, we really didn't want to come up short in this one, especially since it's the seniors' last year," said Glaros, who scored four goals in the national title game as a freshman. "Our offense was just working really well together and moving the ball well and hitting the open cutters. It all just fell into place for us."
Both teams went into the title game looking to end two-game losing streaks — the Terps in the title game and the Orange to Maryland this season. The third time proved the charm for the Terps, who won their first title since 2010.
Taking an early lead against the Orange certainly helped.
"I think the draw controls were just huge," Cummings said, "and we just came and we were fired up. We were ready to go. We didn't want to play with fear, and I think we just showed what Maryland lacrosse is all about, and we came out with a win."
Cummings, who was the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, finished with eight draw controls. She helped the Terps to a 12-4 advantage in the first half and 16-8 before Syracuse won the last five of the game. She helped the Terps win the first five draws to spark a 5-0 lead in a little more than four minutes before the Orange had its first possession. Syracuse rallied to cut the lead to 5-4 with 9:42 left in the first half, but in a game of runs, the Terps strung together three spurts of three or more goals.
After Glaros scored an extra-man goal for a 15-8 lead with 11:02 left, the Orange rallied with four straight goals — its biggest run since answering Maryland's 5-0 lead with four straight. Syracuse won five straight draws to help Katie Webster score twice and Amy Cross and Alyssa Murray once each to pull within 15-12 with 4:21 to go.
Coach Cathy Reese's Terps also played terrific defense, and late in the game, forced three straight turnovers in Syracuse's attacking end that led to goals by Maryland.
Brooke Griffin (South River) converted twice, the first on a feed from Zoe Stukenberg (Marriotts Ridge) and the second on a nifty spin move after taking a pass from Glaros in front of the goal. Kristen Lamon (St. Mary's) then converted a free-position goal after an off-ball foul that boosted Maryland's lead to 13-7.
After Kailah Kempney got one back for the Orange, Glaros scored back-to-back goals for a 15-8 lead with 11:02 to go.
The Orange had the top one-two scoring punch in the nation in Kayla Treanor and Murray, who averaged 9.5 points per game between them. They combined for 16 points in Friday night's 16-8 semifinal win over sixth-seeded Virginia, but the Terps kept them in check for a third time. They managed five goals and two assists between them Sunday.
This is the fourth time since 2009 that the Terps have defeated the Orange in the final four, including last season's 12-11 semifinal victory. Maryland has dominated the series, winning 16 of 17 meetings, with the Orange's lone win coming during the regular season in 2012.
The Terps and the Orange seemed destined for a title-game clash. Maryland and Syracuse were ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, for the final four weeks of the season. They played in the championship game of the toughest conference in the country, the ACC, with the Terps taking a 13-7 victory.
Each team also featured two finalists for the top trophy in the game, the Tewaaraton Award — Maryland's Cummings and defender Megan Douty and Syracuse's Treanor and Murray.
Syracuse cut the Terps' lead to 9-7 when Murray scored the first goal of the second half, but Cummings outreached Kirkland Locey to win the next draw and quickly fed Griffin for a 10-7 lead with 27:30 left. After a turnover by Syracuse in its attacking end, Stukenberg fed Griffin, open in front of the net, for the low shot and an 11-7 lead.
Cummings won the first draw to get the Terps off to the quick start. It took Maryland just 43 seconds to get on the board. Erin Collins, racing down the left side, found Lamon open on the right of the crease for the quick lead.
Glaros and Cummings made it 3-0 with just 2:02 gone before Kelly McPartland fed Lamon and then added an unassisted goal to push the Terps lead to 5-0 just 4:20 into the game.
"That was obviously a tough way to start," Orange coach Gary Gait said, "when they come out on the draws like that. But we kept our composure. I was really proud of our team. We came back. We fought back for a run of four on our own to get ourselves back in the game."
But Maryland wouldn't score for the next 16 minutes as the Orange came back with four straight goals.
Syracuse got its first possession when Kelly Cross won the next draw and Treanor rolled the crease to bounce the Orange's first goal past Terps goalkeeper Abbey Clipp (Marriotts Ridge). Murray found Amy Cross to cut the Maryland lead to 5-2 with 23 minutes left in the first half.
After Orange goalie Alyssa Costantino saved Cummings' free-position shot, Treanor answered at the other end, working the crease to find a tough angle past Clipp with 12:06 left in the half. Costantino made another stop on a shot by Collins, and Murray fired a shot past Clipp to cut the Maryland lead to 5-4 with 9:42 to go in the half.
Cummings stopped the run, going straight to the goal off her fourth draw control of the game. Glaros then netted a free-position goal after Syracuse defender Liz Harbeson picked up a yellow card. Cummings scored the Terps' third goal in a span of 4:10 to push their lead to 8-4 with 5:24 left.
With three minutes left in the half, Bridget Daley scored a free-position goal for the Orange, then Katie Webster cut the lead to 8-6.
Glaros added a goal with 45 seconds left, and Cummings won the final draw as the Terps took a 9-6 lead into the break.
In addition to Cummings and Glaros, McParland and Douty were also named to the all-tournament team.
Syracuse 6 6 -- 12
Maryland 9 6 -- 15
Goals: S—Treanor 2, Murray 3, K.Webster 3, Treanor 2, A.Cross 2, Kempney; M—Glaros 5, Cummings 3, Griffin 3, Lamon 3, McPartland. Assists: S—Murray, Treanor; M—Cummings, Glaros, Griffin, McPartland, Stukenberg, Collins. Saves: S—Costantino 3, Richardson 3; M—Clipp 3.