With every save Megan Taylor made in Sunday’s NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament final, the Maryland faithful serenaded the senior goalkeeper with chants of “ME-GAN TAY-LOR!” that grew louder and louder as the game went deeper into the second half.
Taylor, one of the shortest players on the roster at 5 feet 3, was a giant on the field, making a game-high 10 saves to propel the top-seeded Terps to a 12-10 win against No. 2 seed Boston College at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field.
An announced soldout crowd of 9,433 — the fourth-largest to watch a Division I women’s lacrosse title game — witnessed Maryland polish off a 22-1 season and capture an NCAA record-leading 14th national championship in its 22nd appearance in the championship final.
The crowd was treated to a display from Taylor, the Glenelg resident and graduate who was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player after making 24 saves and giving up 23 combined goals in wins against No. 4 seed Northwestern and the Eagles.
Taylor, a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, given annually to the top player in college lacrosse, was aided by four starting defenders in seniors Julia Braig (St. Paul’s) and Shelby Mercer (Century), redshirt junior Meghan Doherty (Mount Hebron) and junior Lizzie Colson (Manchester Valley). Mercer, in particular, limited Boston College senior midfielder and Tewaaraton finalist Dempsey Arsenault to one goal and one assist, and Doherty drew a charge from graduate student attacker Kenzie Kent with 1:10 left in the second half to essentially cement the victory.
“My defense today played out of their minds,” Taylor said. “We were all so prepared. [Assistant coach Lauri] Kenis, I don’t think she got any sleep, honestly. She had so much film that was so helpful that we knew lwhat to expect] and were prepared, and we were just ready to execute. They made my job so easy. They forced low-angle shots [against] a really talented BC team.
“They’re all offensive threats, and to be able to hold them … I mean, I’ve been saying it all year, I believe that I play with in front of me All-Americans, 100%.”
As much as Taylor tried to deflect credit, coach Cathy Reese refused to allow the four-year starter to step out of the spotlight.
“Megan Taylor once again put the team on her back, and she’s making save after save,” said Reese, who raised her career coaching record to 301-51 and collected her fifth national championship during her 13-year tenure with the Terps. “They were phenomenal plays, and that was huge, her ability to just shift the momentum when she can come up with a stop.”
After senior midfielder Jen Giles scored with 7:18 left in the second half to give Maryland a 12-8 advantage, Taylor sticked aside a shot from junior attacker Sheila Rietano, who was running free down the slot. She then made back-to-back saves against senior attacker and 2018 Tewaaraton Award winner Sam Apuzzo.
Apuzzo, who finished with three goals and one assist, noted that the Terps slowed the tempo and forced Boston College to adopt a more plodding style.
“It was definitely a lot less fast-paced,” she said. “Maryland has a very strong defense. They stay in, and they like to play 1-v-1 defense. Yeah, it was harder to get in [close to the net]. Megan Taylor’s an awesome goalie, too. They were prepared.”
With Taylor and the defense holding the Eagles to their lowest scoring output since a 9-7 win against Virginia Tech on April 14, 2018, the Terps offense was efficient, converting 60% of its shots on goal.
Junior attacker Brindi Griffin (McDonogh) and sophomore midfielder Grace Griffin (Liberty) scored three goals each for the Terps, who also got two goals and one assist each from senior attacker Caroline Steele (Severn) and Giles, also a Tewaaraton finalist. Graduate student midfielder Erica Evans, who entered the game leading the team in goals with 59, was shut out and held to a single assist as Boston College face-guarded her.
After the Eagles took a 2-1 lead with 22:30 left in the first half, Steele scored her second goal of the game 73 seconds later, and Maryland never trailed after that.
“I think that’s something we wanted from the beginning, was to come out firing and really having our foot on the pedal,” Giles said. “We wanted to keep attacking. Attacking was our mentality all over the field. So I think with that mindset, that really helped us, and the best part about Maryland is that everyone’s a threat on our team.”
Kent paced Boston College (22-2) with a game-best six points on five goals and one assist, and junior goalie Lauren Daly made eight saves in her sixth start of the season. But the Eagles became the first team to lose in three consecutive championship finals, and coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein assumed the blame for not adjusting the offense’s strategy until it was too late.
“I think I needed to have the girls in a different place and maybe make some different play calls,” said Walker-Weinstein, who graduated from Annapolis and Maryland. “But Maryland’s defense is awesome. They’re all awesome. It’s hard to beat them, it’s hard to stop them.”
Notes: Maryland is 3-for-3 in title games at Homewood Field, adding the 2019 crown to ones won in 1999 and 2001. … In addition to Taylor, Braig, Colson and Brindi Griffin were named to the All-Tournament team. Boston College was represented by Apuzzo, Arsenault and Kent, and the team included the North Carolina pair of sophomore attacker Jamie Ortega and sophomore defender Emma Trenchard and the Northwestern duo of senior attacker Selena Lasota and freshman attacker Izzy Scane. … Attendance for the weekend was 17,941, the fourth-highest for an NCAA Division I women’s championship weekend.