COLLEGE PARK — For the second time in as many meetings, the final score of a women’s lacrosse game between Johns Hopkins and Maryland was 9-8.
And for the second time, the Terps emerged triumphant. On Wednesday afternoon, fifth-year senior attacker Brindi Griffin and senior midfielder Grace Griffin scored the final two goals to help No. 14 Maryland avoid another upset bid by the visiting Blue Jays at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.
The win was the Terps’ 21st in 21 all-time meetings with Johns Hopkins. Perhaps more importantly, the outcome helped them get over any sour taste lingering from a 16-9 setback at No. 17 Penn State on Sunday.
“I think it gives us confidence,” said Grace Griffin, a Sykesville resident and Liberty graduate who finished with two goals, one assist and three ground balls and is not related to Brindi Griffin. “Knowing that when the going gets tough, we keep fighting. Knowing that we’re able to overcome that adversity and come together as a team, I think that’s really important for us.”
Unlike Maryland’s one-goal decision at Homewood Field in Baltimore on March 12, Wednesday’s game did not have to extend in overtime. But the Terps (7-4, 6-4 Big Ten) needed some heroics from two of their most experienced players on the offensive end.
With Maryland trailing 8-7, sophomore goalkeeper Emily Sterling (10 saves) turned aside a shot from graduate student attacker Mackenzie Heldberg, leading to a successful clear and a timeout with 3:01 left in the second half.
The Terps ran an offensive set with five of seven players on the right side of the field and Brindi Griffin (McDonogh) and Grace Griffin standing alone on the left side. Brindi Griffin worked her way to the high slot and skipped a shot past Blue Jays senior goalie Kathleen Garvey for her fourth goal of the game to knot the score at 8-8 with 2:48 remaining.
Senior midfielder Shelby Harrison corralled the ensuing draw for Johns Hopkins and a chance to regain the lead. But a free-position shot by graduate student midfielder Maggie Schneidereith (Towson) from the right side of the arc went wide left, and the shot clock ran out with 1:14 left.
After another Maryland timeout with 46.7 seconds remaining, the offense went back to the well, this time lining up five players on the left side and positioning Grace Griffin and Brindi Griffin on the right side. Grace Griffin ran her defender off a pick set by Brindi Griffin and laced a sidearm shot from the high slot into the top left corner of the net for the 9-8 lead with 39.3 seconds left.
“The play was the one we ran for Brindi, but just on the other side,” Grace Griffin said. “I was really confident that because she was able to get open and get that shot off, now it was my time to step up. She worked her butt off to get me open, and that’s what it means to be a teammate.”
On the ensuing draw, graduate student defender Lizzie Colson (Manchester Valley) corralled her fifth draw of the game and passed the ball to sophomore attacker Hannah Leubecker, who ran off much of the clock before giving up the ball under heavy pressure applied by Johns Hopkins senior defender Trinity McPherson (Catonsville). But with only five seconds remaining, all McPherson could do was attempt a full-field heave that landed just beyond the midline and was intercepted by senior defender Laurie Bracey (Centennial) to end the game.
The Griffins were representative of a senior class that accounted for the Terps’ eight goals, one assist, 10 of 16 ground balls and nine of 12 caused turnovers.
“These guys have experience, and when we’re in situations that are tough like this, we need to step up, and we need to get it done on the field,” coach Cathy Reese said of her seniors. “Today, I thought you saw that out of two timeouts near the end of the game, Brindi coming up with a huge goal and Grace kind of sealing the deal. That was really just awesome. I don’t have another word for it. I love watching them grow as leaders, and that was a moment when they gutted it out and got the job done on the field.”
The Terps still have deficiencies to address. For the second consecutive game, the offense was held under 10 goals and went scoreless for a 23:16 stretch in the second half before Brindi Griffin’s game-tying goal. Maryland committed a game-high 17 turnovers, and 14 of them were caused by the Blue Jays.
But at least temporarily, the Terps can focus on the positive instead of the negative.
“We weren’t shooting particularly well. We had too many turnovers, more than we would have liked,” Reese said. “But I thought defensively, we played really well. We were able to cause a lot of turnovers. We were able to force them to take shots that Emily could save. And then I thought we did a better job clearing the ball today. Overall, I’m just really proud of these guys to stick it out, gut it out, and play with a lot of heart and a lot of grit for that whole game today.”
Senior attacker Aurora Cordingley paced Johns Hopkins (4-5 overall and in the Big Ten) with a game-high four goals, graduate student attacker Mackenzie Heldberg contributed one goal and two assists, and Garvey made seven saves. But after scoring a combined 30 goals in back-to-back wins against Penn State and Rutgers, the Blue Jays went scoreless over the final 7:27 and missed on 7-of-9 free-position chances.
“I think that we gave ourselves a lot of opportunities that we did not finish,” coach Janine Tucker said. “I think even up until the end of the game, we gave ourselves opportunities to score, and we just did not get the last piece of the puzzle in place, and that hurt us against a team like that. I think that we battled for everything. It was a fun game to watch, but I didn’t feel as if we had much of a flow offensively as we had in the last couple of games, and that’s a credit to Maryland trying to keep us out of our rhythm. There are just a couple of things I would like back like finishing some of the opportunities we worked so hard to create.”