Reese’s timeout speech helps Maryland women’s lacrosse escape Stony Brook’s NCAA tournament upset bid

COLLEGE PARK — Cathy Reese had seen this movie before, and she was not a fan.

For the second game in a row, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team looked lethargic at the start, giving up the game’s first four goals to Stony Brook. In a 16-11 loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament final a week ago, the Wildcats raced to a 4-1 lead they would never relinquish.


So Reese called a timeout after the team fell into a 3-0 hole Sunday and delivered what the Big Ten Network broadcast crew called “a fiery speech.” And the top-seeded Terps responded, scoring the final eight goals of the first half to cruise to a 17-8 pasting of the Seawolves in an NCAA tournament second-round game before an announced 311 at Maryland Stadium, delighting red-clad matriarchs on Mother’s Day.

Maryland (19-1) advances to its 13th consecutive NCAA quarterfinal, where it will tangle with Denver (16-3), which upset No. 8 seed Michigan, 9-5, on Sunday. But the group needed some prodding from Reese, who initially downplayed the “fiery” characterization of her talk to her players during that timeout just 4:33 into the first half.


No. 1 seed Penn State routed visiting UMBC, 25-10, in the first round of the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament Sunday.

“I looked at my other coaches, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness,’ ” Reese said. “I had a different feeling coming into this game that we were going to kind of start off on fire. That’s why we took the timeout, that’s why we wanted to take the break, reset. Let’s just get over that. It’s done. Now we’re just kind of in the red, [and] we need to dig our way out of this.

“It’s obviously not a good feeling when you go down, and sometimes it’s only a goal or two, but we gave up possession after possession, which resulted in goals. So we made a change, and gosh, the next 50 minutes were a lot different. That’s what we wanted to see, and I wish we could have extended that to 60, and that will obviously be a big part of our conversation as we move forward and advance to play next weekend.”

Senior midfielder Jen Giles, an Ellicott City native and Mount Hebron graduate who was one of four players to finish with a hat trick, said that the early deficit was disappointing.

“Obviously, it [stinks] to be down, and we never want that,” she said. “But this week, we’ve been working on next-play mentality and just learning from our mistake, but putting it behind us because it’s over and nothing can change the fact that it happened. Just working for that next ball — whether that’s a ground ball or a goal or just all over the field.”

Maryland has surrendered the first goal in seven straight games, which is another concern. But after sophomore midfielder Siobhan Rafferty converted a pass from senior attacker Sara Moeller with 18:27 left in the first half, Stony Brook went scoreless over the next 21:56 until Moeller scored a man-down goal 3:28 into the second half.

Senior defender Shelby Mercer, a Woodbine native and Century graduate, said the defense made some adjustments after the Seawolves’ initial barrage.

Senior attackman Pat Spencer dropped nine points on three goals and six assists to key the No. 8 seed Greyhounds’ 15-13 win against Syracuse.

“I think they had a lot of movement,” she said. “They were moving really well and having good cuts, which we knew. But I think what changed was we just started talking a lot more, kind of working together, and picking up our energy a little bit.”

The offense made the defense’s work stand up, scoring eight straight goals over a 13:57 span to turn a 6-3 deficit into an 11-6 advantage. The unit converted six of eight free-position shots and five of six extra-man opportunities.

“We’ve been working on that all week in practice,” said graduate student midfielder Erica Evans, who tied a season high with seven points on five goals (two on free-position chances) and two assists. “Every single day, we take free-position shots because we know that they’re an aggressive team and that we’re going to have a lot of opportunities. We just had to capitalize on those and use those to our advantage.”

Moeller, a Phoenix native and St. Paul’s graduate who transferred from UMBC, paced Stony Brook with two goals and one assist. But the offense sorely missed junior midfielder Ally Kennedy, who led the team in goals (84), points (99) and draw controls (118) but drew her second yellow card with 27:51 left in the second half and was forced to sit out the rest of the game.

Coach Joe Spallina questioned the officials’ decisions to waive off an apparent goal by junior attacker Taryn Ohlmiller because of a dangerous follow-through and another by Kennedy that would have given the Seawolves leads of 7-5 and 7-6, respectively.

“For a team like us, those have got to be goals,” he said. “At 6-6, we got 7-6 disallowed, and then it was 7-6 the other way. That’s a two-goal swing. So that’s tough for us because we have to fight for every little inch. Top to bottom, they’ve got Maseratis and Porsches. … We can’t endure that.”


Notes: Maryland has won all six meetings with Stony Brook by an average margin of 8.5 goals. … Senior defender Julia Braig, a Reisterstown native and St. Paul’s graduate, caused three turnovers, which tied a career high. … Senior attacker Caroline Steele, a Severna Park native and Severn graduate, amassed three goals and career-high-tying three assists. … The Seawolves lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016.

Stony Brook 6 2 — 8

Maryland 11 6 — 17

Goals: S—Moeller 2, Rafferty 2, Barretta, Burns, Ohlmiller, Tabasso; M—Evans 5, Giles 3, G.Griffin 3, Steele 3, Hartshorn 2, B.Griffin. Assists: S—Kennedy, Moeller, Ohlmiller; M—Steele 3, Evans 2, B.Griffin, G.Griffin, Hartshorn, Warther. Saves: S—Tesoriero 5; M—Taylor 7.

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