After a brief hiatus, the Maryland women’s lacrosse program is back in a familiar position.
The top-seeded Terps emphatically avenged their lone loss of the season and blistered No. 4 seed Northwestern, 25-13, in the second NCAA Division I tournament semifinal at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field in Baltimore Friday night.
Maryland (21-1) produced the most goals in a game since a 25-3 thrashing at Quinnipiac on March 11, 2004 and advanced to Sunday’s title game at noon against No. 2 Boston College. The appearance will mark the school’s Division I-leading 22nd appearance in the tournament final and sixth in the last seven years.
But the Terps missed out on last year’s title game after falling to the Eagles in the semifinals, and that memory drove the current group of players.
“Losing [stinks],” said senior goalkeeper Megan Taylor, a Glenelg resident and graduate who stopped a game-best 14 shots. “I think everybody that plays a competitive sport can say that, but competing at this level, it’s unbelievable. So having that feeling last year, it just fuels our fire a little bit. [Coach] Cathy [Reese] said it best and explained to us that we’re fighting for this national championship.”
In the 16-11 setback to the Wildcats (16-5) in the Big Ten tournament final on May 5, Maryland trailed 4-1 and then surrendered the last five goals of the first half to fall into a 10-4 hole at halftime.
On Friday night, the Terps scored the first three goals and finished with an 11-7 advantage at halftime, matching their total output from that loss. They converted 6-of-8 free-position shots, and junior attacker Brindi Griffin (McDonogh) paced the offense with career highs in both goals with six and points with seven, sophomore midfielder Grace Griffin (Liberty) added four goals, and even senior defender Julia Braig (St. Paul’s) got in the mix with the first goal of her career.
“This is a shootout,” said Reese, who raised her career record to 300-51. “We started going, and we only had a two-goal lead pretty much for most of the game until about [the last] 15 minutes when we could start to pull away a little bit there. But from where we were, we put up 11 the last time we played, and we needed to make changes from that. To keep our foot on the gas and keep pressing forward and shoot as well as we did against a defense as tough as them is something that we’re proud of.”
Northwestern remained uncowed by the early deficit, however, clawing back to tie the score at 4-4 with 19:44 left on a goal from senior attacker and Tewaaraton Award finalist Selena Lasota. But Maryland remained in front and padded an 8-6 lead with three consecutive goals over a 5:53 span.
After the Wildcats drew to within 16-13 with 19:08 left in the second half, the Terps scored nine unanswered goals over a 13:53 span. The seventh goal in that run initiated a running clock.
Besides the scoreboard, another pivotal reversal for the Terps occurred on draws. In the setback, Northwestern, which led the Big Ten in draw controls per game (17.5), won 19-of-29, including 12-of-15 in the first half. The Wildcats won 20 draws Friday night, but Maryland won 19, including 11-of-20 in the second half.
“They were really firing on all cylinders,” Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “They obviously were very motivated. We stayed in it, and we fought back. We just lost it a bit. We didn’t do a great job with the fundamentals. It was just a little bit uncharacteristic of us. In these situations, you really need everyone to step up in order to win a game like this. We didn’t do that today, and they really did that.”
The announced sold-out attendance of 8,508 marked the second-largest crowd to watch a Division I semifinal and the sixth-biggest to watch a single NCAA tournament game.
Northwestern; 7; 6; —; 13
Maryland; 11; 14; —; 25
Goals: N—Scane 5, Lasota 3, McKone 2, Stein 2, Elder; M—B.Griffin 6, Evans 3, Giles 3, G.Griffin 3, Hartshorn 2, May 2, Steele 2, Warther 2, Braig. Assists: N—Lasota, McKone, Scane, Stein; M— B.Griffin, Hartshorn, Steele. Saves: N—Weisse 6, Doucette 0; M—Taylor 14, McSally 0.
Boston College 15, North Carolina 14: For more than 67 minutes, Boston College senior attacker Sam Apuzzo had been quieted by North Carolina sophomore defender Emma Trenchard.
But the 2018 Tewaaraton Award winner emerged at the right time, scoring the game-winning goal with 4:48 left in double overtime to cap the No. 2 seed Eagles’ 15-14 win against the No. 3 seed Tar Heels in the first NCAA Division I tournament semifinal at Homewood Field in Baltimore on Friday evening.
After being limited to a goal and an assist in regulation thanks to stellar play by Trenchard, Apuzzo, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Attacker of the Year, took the ACC’s Defender of the Year around the left post, curled back down the left alley, and deposited the ball over junior goalkeeper Elise Hennessey.
Junior midfielder Cara Urbank scored a team-high four goals, and senior midfielder Dempsey Arsenault chipped in three more goals to pace Boston College (22-1), which remained perfect in the final four and will play in Sunday’s title game at noon for the third consecutive year.
Senior goalie Lauren Daly made seven saves while giving up eight goals after replacing starting sophomore Abbey Ngai with 16:03 left in the first half.
Sophomore attacker Jamie Ortega led North Carolina (17-4) with five goals and two assists, but the Tar Heels wasted a 6-0 advantage they had built in the first 13:57 and have now dropped four of their last five semifinal appearances.
North Carolina; 8; 6; 0; 0; 0; —; 14
Boston College; 6; 8; 0; 0; 1; —; 15
Goals: NC—Ortega 5, Growney 3, Klages 3, Bowe, Ferrucci, Mastroianni; BC—Urbank 4, Arsenault 3, Apuzzo 2, Kent 2, Rietano 2, Lappin, Taylor. Assists: NC—Hoeg 4, Ferruci 3, Ortega 2, Hillman; BC—Apuzzo, Kent, Taylor, Walker. Saves: NC—Moreno 10, Hennessey 4; BC—Ngai 0, Daly 7.