It had a national championship atmosphere during the NCAA women’s lacrosse final four Friday night at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium, and for good reason.
No. 1 seed Maryland and No. 4 seed Boston College traded goals throughout the second half — during which no team took more than a one-goal lead until 7:26 remained in a rematch of last season’s NCAA championship game.
But this year, Boston College got the better of Maryland with a 15-13 win in the semifinals, ending the Terps’ run at back-to-back national championships. Maryland closed its season with a 20-2 record.
“These are two really, really good teams that came out and battled it out tonight,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. “And somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose, but it was a great effort by both teams.”
After five ties to open the second half, Boston College’s Sam Apuzzo scored the game’s final two goals, with 8:14 remaining and then again with 7:26 to go.
“The last eight minutes, we just toughed it out,” said Kali Hartshorn, who finished with four goals and an assist for Maryland. “When you’re coming down the last couple minutes with your team, you want to give everything you have for each other.”
Boston College (22-1) plays No. 3 seed James Madison in the national championship game Sunday at noon in Stony Brook.
With Maryland’s Megan Whittle (McDonogh) — a senior Tewaaraton Award finalist entering the game with a team-leading 83 goals — being face-guarded throughout the game, the Terps needed offense from its other scorers. Maryland entered averaging 16.33 goals per game, the highest-scoring offense of the teams in the final four.
Hartshorn led the way while Jen Giles (Mount Hebron) had three goals and three assists for Maryland. Taylor Hensh (Marriotts Ridge) added three goals in the loss as Megan Taylor (Glenelg) had 13 saves. Whittle finished with only one goal, coming on a free position, and three shots.
Apuzzo finished with four goals and Dempsey Arsenault had three goals and two assists for Boston College.
Maryland opened the game with great efficiency, as Caroline Steele Severn), Hartshorn and Giles had all scored in the first 2:08 for an early 3-0 lead.
After Boston College responded with its first goal, Hartshorn fired a free-position goal into the top left corner of the net with 25:17 remaining in the first half for a 4-1 lead. Hensh added a free-position goal to extend the lead to 5-1 with 22:12 left in the half. Hensh scored again with 16:08 remaining before the break for a 6-2 lead.
But for the second straight game, the Terps allowed a late first-half run as Boston College responded with four straight goals — including three in a 2:41 span — to tie the score at 6 with 9:10 remaining in the first half. The Eagles scored 50 seconds later to take a 7-6 advantage, their first lead of the game. Giles answered with her second goal of the game with 7:03 remaining in the first half to tie the score at 7.
“I think sometimes we can get ahead of ourselves,” Giles said, “and we just need to buckle down in those situations and really make a big stop or score a goal because when the momentum shifts, it’s really hard to stop that.”
The Terps, coming off a 17-15 quarterfinal victory over Navy on May 19 after trailing by three twice in the second half following an 8-3 lead to start the game, blew a similar lead against Boston College and went into halftime tied at 8.
Boston College outshot Maryland, 33-32, with a 17-13 advantage on draw controls.
The loss ended Maryland’s 18-game winning streak after winning both the Big Ten regular season and tournament championships. It was the Terps’ 10th straight trip to the championship weekend.
“Tonight was just two great teams coming together to play under a stage that’s bigger than both Jen and us,” Hartshorn said.