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College Lacrosse

Boston College women’s lacrosse rallies late to stun Maryland, 17-16, advance to NCAA championship game against North Carolina

The energy of youth had been an advantage for the Maryland women’s lacrosse team for much of the spring. The inexperience of that youth might have caught up to it.

The Terps committed a series of turnovers while trying to protect a three-goal lead with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, and reigning national champion Boston College scored the final four goals to escape with a 17-16 win in an NCAA Tournament semifinal before an announced 7,694 at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field in Baltimore.

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Graduate student attacker Charlotte North, the 2021 Tewaaraton Award winner, scored two of her game-high six goals to fuel a comeback for the No. 3 seed Eagles (19-3) that tied the score at 16 with 3:06 remaining. Then redshirt junior midfielder Cassidy Weeks cemented the victory by dunking a pass from senior attacker Caitlynn Mossman with 18.8 seconds left.

Boston College advanced to its fifth consecutive title game, where it will meet No. 1 seed North Carolina on Sunday at noon. The Tar Heels (21-0) edged No. 4 seed Northwestern, 15-14, in an earlier semifinal.

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The No. 2 seed Terps (19-2) had chances to salt the game away. Leading 16-14, junior defender Aiden Peduzzi made an ill-advised run to the Boston College cage, slipped and slid into the crease, giving possession back to the Eagles. Sixty seconds later, North’s goal narrowed the gap to one with 5:16 remaining.

Maryland won the ensuing draw, but graduate student attacker Aurora Cordingley committed a turnover under heavy pressure from Weeks, which Boston College converted into North’s game-tying goal. Then after Terps sophomore midfielder Shannon Smith controlled the next draw, junior attacker Hannah Leubecker lost the ball on a spin move to the middle of the net, and Boston College capitalized with the eventual game-winning goal.

On Maryland’s roster, only graduate student midfielder Grace Griffin, a Sykesville resident and Liberty graduate, and graduate student defender Torie Barretta had ever played at this stage of the season. The Terps won their 15th national title in 2019, but the 2020 season was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic and Maryland was eliminated in the second round by Duke in 2021.

“Maybe a little bit,” coach Cathy Reese said when asked if the pressure of the moment contributed to Maryland’s uncharacteristic errors in the final minutes. “There were some crazy things with it, but there were some moments when a little inexperience showed a little bit. I said that from the start. We have a really young team. When you look at all of our scoring, 14 of our 16 goals were sophomores [by eligibility] or younger. So when it got a little tight, I thought we were a little hesitant. We struggled clearing the ball towards the end of the game. We sort of got caught back on our heels instead of forward on our toes.”

The Terps committed 17 turnovers to the Eagles’ nine, including five each in the third and fourth quarters. A pair of graduate students in Cordingley and midfielder Grace Griffin (Liberty) committed a game-high three turnovers each, but Leubecker declined to assign any blame.

“We would like a couple of those back, but that’s on everyone,” she said. “That’s not on one person.”

Junior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn noted that Boston College began to apply the heat when it needed to mount a comeback in that fourth quarter.

“I think BC does a good job of pressuring, and it’s all over the field,” said the Woodbine resident and Glenelg Country graduate, who finished with a game-high nine draw controls and one goal. “It was another team we were prepared for. I think in the heat of the moment, a few didn’t go our way, and I thought they did a good job of coming out and pressuring us on our hands and making us do something different than we normally would.”

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Leubecker, a Forest Hill resident, led the Terps with five goals. Junior attacker Libby May, a Sparks resident and Hereford graduate, racked up three goals and two assists, and freshman midfielder Jordyn Lipkin added two goals and two assists. Junior goalkeeper Emily Sterling, a Bel Air resident and John Carroll graduate, made a game-high eight saves, but none in the fourth quarter.

No. 1 seed North Carolina 15, No. 4 seed Northwestern 14

The Tar Heels were rescued by a player in her first season with the program.

Graduate student attacker Sam Geiersbach, who transferred from Richmond this offseason, scored all five of her goals in a 4:24 span to fuel a game-ending 8-0 run that helped North Carolina (21-0) end a three-game losing skid in the Final Four before an announced 7,694 and take aim at what would be the program’s third national championship.

Geiersbach’s heroics — which included two assists for a game-high seven points — helped the Tar Heels rally from a 13-5 deficit with 32.3 seconds left in the third quarter. Fifth-year senior attacker Jamie Ortega added three goals and three assists, and graduate student midfielder Ally Mastroianni scored three times.

“I came to UNC because I knew they would get here,” said Geiersbach, who has amassed 34 goals and 27 assists in 20 games as primarily a reserve off the bench. “So my plan coming here was based on the fact that UNC is an awesome school. These girls are the best girls I’ve ever met. And I knew that this was going to be their year, and I just wanted a piece of it – whether I was on the field or not.”

The final score was North Carolina’s first lead of the game and was preserved by Taylor Moreno. The graduate student goalkeeper made her fifth save of the game by stoning Wildcats graduate student attacker Lauren Gilbert on a breakaway with 28 seconds left in regulation, and Moreno redeemed a performance that included getting pulled for 7:47 in the third quarter in favor of freshman Alecia Nichols.

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Gilbert paced Northwestern (16-5) with five goals and one assist, graduate student midfielder Jill Girardi amassed three goals, six draw controls and two ground balls, and senior goalie Madison Doucette stopped a game-high nine shots.

But the Wildcats lost for the fifth consecutive time in the semifinals since capturing their eighth title in 2012.

The game was delayed for 1 hour, 36 minutes by lightning with 1:11 left in the first quarter. The game was suspended at 12:46 p.m. and did not resume until 2:32 p.m.

NCAA Tournament championship

BOSTON COLLEGE VS. NORTH CAROLINA

At Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field

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Sunday, noon

TV: ESPN


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