In her role as a defender for the Maryland women’s lacrosse team, Lizzie Colson is perfectly comfortable marking opponents’ top offensive players and trying to make life easy for fellow senior and goalkeeper Megan Taylor.
But the Manchester resident knows an opportunity when she sees one. So when she found herself with a free lane to the net a few minutes after the midway mark of the first half, Colson pounced and scored the second goal of her career, putting an exclamation mark on the top-seeded Terps’ 15-8 victory over No. 4 seed Penn State in a Big Ten women’s lacrosse tournament semifinal at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field in Baltimore on Friday evening.
Maryland (18-0) improved to 7-1 in the conference tournament and advanced to their fourth consecutive title game, which is scheduled for Sunday at noon. The program, which has captured all five league regular-season championships since joining the Big Ten in 2015, has claimed the last three tournament crowns.
The Terps’ latest win was fueled by Colson, who credited her playing days as a midfielder at Manchester Valley to contributing to her goal.
“I think that in high school, my midfield game definitely has helped me, and on the defensive end, I can transition and kind of see how the attackers are going to see things,” she said. “I have more of an offensive mindset. So I think it’s helped me in a lot of aspects. I don’t really think about getting on the scoreboard too much, but it’s fun when it happens.”
Colson – who also totaled five draw controls, three ground balls and two caused turnovers – certainly looked at ease playing offense. After sophomore midfielder Grace Griffin (Liberty) converted a pass from sophomore Catie May (McDonogh) with 10:17 left in the first half, Colson snatched a ground ball from the ensuing faceoff.
She split two Nittany Lions players and raced into the offensive zone. After faking a pass to her right to senior attacker Caroline Steele (Severn), Colson ran past a defender down the slot and deposited the ball behind freshman goalkeeper Taylor Suplee (Southern) to give Maryland an 8-3 advantage with 10:02 remaining.
“Honestly, I don’t know what was going through my head,” she said. “I just remember kind of seeing that lane, and my coaches and my teammates really encourage me just to take risks. … We worked on pushing the ball in transition, and I kind of just took advantage of the lane that I saw.”
Colson was mobbed by her teammates, and graduate student midfielder Erica Evans said Colson’s goal sparked the Terps.
“That’s just so awesome,” she said. “Everybody came down and supported her. … Having her go down and score that goal just shows the depth of our team. It’s exciting, and it’s great.”
Evans led all scorers with five goals and now has 302 points in her career, and Maryland got four points each from Grace Griffin (three goals and one assist), May (two goals and two assists) and sophomore attacker Brindi Griffin (one goal and three assists). What especially pleased coach Cathy Reese was that the Terps answered every Penn State goal with at least one except for the final two when the game was already out of reach.
“That’s really good because that’s important,” she said. “We know that Penn State’s offense is coming at us, and they’re coming at us hard. When they do put the ball away, we need to be able to control the next one and try to make something happen on the other end. To have the ability to respond like that is great.”
Junior attacker Maria Auth (North Harford) paced the Nittany Lions with three goals and one assist. Suplee made a game-high 18 saves, including 11 in the second half.
Penn State; 5; 3; —; 8
Maryland; 10; 5; —; 15
Goals: P—Auth 3, Nicolai 2, Roberto 2, Brisolari; M—Evans 5, G.Griffin 3, Hartshorn 2, May 2, Colson, B.Griffin, Steele. Assists: P—Auth, Rosen; M—B.Griffin 3, May 2, Giles, G.Griffin, Steele. Saves: P—Suplee 18; M—Taylor 14, McSally 0.
No. 2 seed Northwestern 19, No. 3 seed Michigan 9: The Wildcats capitalized on a 12-2 run spanning the first and second halves to cement a berth in Sunday’s title game for the third time in the last four years.
Senior attacker Selena Lasota and sophomore attacker Lauren Gilbert each scored five goals for Northwestern (13-4). Junior attacker Lindsey McKone chipped in six points on three goals and three assists, and freshman attacker Izzy Scane added three goals and two assists. Senior goalkeeper Mallory Weisse stopped 10 shots.
Junior midfielder Molly Garrett accounted for two-thirds of the offense for the Wolverines (15-3), scoring six goals. But sophomore Caitlin Muir, who broke the program’s single-season records for points and assists, was limited to two goals and zero assists.
Michigan 6 3 — 9
Norhtwestern 10 9 — 19