It's good news and good news for Maryland Terrapin fans today as women's lacrosse marched into the Final Four with a 14-9 win over the Duke Blue Devils and the baseball team became the first squad in Terrapins baseball history to win thirty games in consecutive seasons.
In a game that began in a steady rain and that couldn't have been more different from last week's plodder against Stony Brook, the action started quickly. Duke controlled the initial draw but their first shot, coming just over two minutes into the game, sailed high and senior midfielder Katie Schwarzmann out hustled Duke to the sideline to get the Terps their first possession. Maryland needed just over a minute to get their first scoring opportunity but Schwarzmann's free position shot sailed high. The Terps covered and on the continued possession Brooke Griffin circled from behind the net after two feints and opened the scoring for the Terrapins.
Iliana Sanza picked up the ball on the draw and the Terps began firing away at Duke's goalie. First, Taylor Cummings's shot sailed high. About thirty seconds later, Schwarzmann launched a shot that Duke's goalie saved but failed to control and Cummings picked up the ground ball. Maryland worked the ball around for all of 45 seconds before Halle Majorana joined the party. Her shot was also blocked but she picked up the carom and flicked it in for a 2-0 Maryland lead. Al though the Terps controlled the draw, Duke's hot goalie saved another Schwarzmann shot and after the teams traded turnovers, saved a high shot attempt by Beth Glaros before the Blue Devils scored to chop the lead in half. Duke controlled the draw but Maryland's defense forced a turnover and Megan Douty picked up the ground ball and cleared it quickly ahead. Griffin found Schwarzmann's fellow Tewaaraton finalist, Alex Aust close in front of the goal and and the senior attack picked up the first of her five goals in the game.
Duke again controlled the draw and slowed the pace running nearly two minutes off the clock before the Terps harried them into a turnover but Duke's goalie picked up another of her 15 saves on an attempt form Kelly McPartland after Maryland had held possession for nearly a minute. The Terrapins pressure on the clear forced a Blue Devils turnover along the sideline and Maryland quickly took advantage with Aust finding Kristen Lamon in the perfect spot to push the lead to 4-1 with 14:52 remaining in the half.
Duke would be next to score as the Blue Devils goalie continued her hot play and Duke's defense came up with a big deflection on a free position by Schwarzmann. Duke again controlled the draw but freshman defender Alice Mercer created a turnover with a solid check and picked up the ground ball. After athe clear, Schwarzmann launched a bullet that looked to me to have hit off the post but Duke was credited with a save. Howver, Glaros retrieved the ground ball and eventually Griffin scored on a free position chance to give the Terps a 5-2 edge. Schwarzmann picked up the next draw for Maryland but Duke's goalie picked up her eighth and ninth saves of the half on shots by McPartland and Griffin and the Devils eventually scored to shave the margin back to two.
The Terps finished the last seven minutes of the half on a 3-1 run with the goals comint from Aust on a free position, Cummings on a one on one move down the left alley and Aust again scoring on a low shot after coming arond from behind the goal. Duke made a furious charge at the end of the half but Kasey Howard came up with her first two saves of the game in the last twenty seconds with the second coming on a shot from point blank range with just four seconds to go. Maryland held an 8-4 halftime lead.
As the did in the opening half, the Blue Devils controlled the first draw. Howard was again up to the task picking up two more saves on Duke's first possession. Alex Aust's goal was nullified when the officials ruled that she had been fouled before her shot. She quickly made up for it scoring on the free position that gave Maryland their largest lead of the game at 9-4. Two minutes later, Aust picked up her second assist of the day with Schwarzmann the beneficiary as the Terps reached double digits.
Howard came up with a big save on a Blue Devils free position attempt and the Terrapins countered quickly with Erin Collins drawing a yellow card penalty on Duke. Another Blue Devils foul gave Glaros a free position chance but with Aust standing two steps from the goal she smartly opted to pass to the senior for the score. Eight minutes into the second half, Duke finally found the net on a free position shot but after the Devils controlled the draw for a moment, Collins forced a turnover and picked up the ground ball. It was Schwarzmann time again as the senior made a drive from the right into the middle for an easy score.
Over the ensuing two and a half minutes, the Terps attempted three shots to the Devils none but Duke's goalie continued her hot play picking up three more saves. Another Duke yellow card gave Maryland a player advantage that lasted all of two seconds as Griffin notched her third goal of the game and the Terrapin lead was eight with just under seventeen minutes remaining. Beth Glaros joined the goal scoring club picking up her first of the game on a free position shot to give Maryland a comfortable 14-5 lead midway through the seond half.
The Terps slowed their pace of play and the Devils became ever more frantic. This change allowed Duke to score the last four goals of the game but, excepting one quick score off a draw control, Maryland's clock management and solid defense forced Duke to use so much time that the final four goals they scored were merely cosmetic and never threatened the Maryland lead. Perhaps the strongest evidence of this is that Duke's goalie was credited with nearly as many saves (15) as her teammates attempted shots (18).
The Terps will face the Syracuse Orange in their national semi-final at Villanova on Friday. ESPN3 will broadcast the game.
After the exhilarating win and some post game tailgating, I wound my way across campus from the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex to Shipley Field at Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium to catch the end of the rain delayed baseball senior day finale against the Boston College Eagles. When I entered the park, it was the top of the seventh. Maryland trailed 4-0 and Bobby Ruse gave up a one out double into the the left field corner to put runners on second and third. However, he retired the next two batters on a pop out to second and a strikeout to keep the deficit at four.
Both the Terps (in the bottom of the seventh) and the Eagles (in the top of the eighth) went three up and three down in their subsequent at bats. Maryland got on the board in the bottom of the eighth. One of the three seniors honored with their numbers painted into the outfield grass, Jack Cleary, drew a one out walk. Charlie White, bunting for a base hit was thrown out third to first but Cleary took second on the play. The second senior, right fielder Jordan Hagel knocked a grounder through the hole between third and short to pick up his twenty-fourth RBI of an injury shortened senior year. Second baseman Kyle Convissar followed Hagel with a double to the gap in left center for his 37th RBI of the season. Designated Hitter Kevin Martir grounded out to end the inning but the Terps were back in business trailing by two.
Ben Brewster came on to start the ninth for Maryland and, as Ruse had in the eighth, retired the side in order. The Terps mustered another rally in the bottom of the ninth. Freshman first baseman LaMonte Wade started the inning with a lead off walk. Shortstop Blake Schmit lined an opposite field double down the right field line to put Terps on second and third with none out. Anthony Papio, continued his hot hitting from Friday night driving a triple to center clearing the base runners and tying the score. With the potential winning run on third, BC elected to bring their left fielder into the infield as a fifth defender leaving only two players to patrol the outfield. Jose Cuas was hit by a pitch putting runners on the corners and the BC strategy appeared to pay off as Cleary ground out to third. The Eagles walked White intentionally to load the bases.
The count stood at one ball and one strike when Coach Szefc employed the innovative (for it is certainly not time-honored) strategy of attempting a suicide squeeze. To me, this would have been a perplexing choice regardless of the hitter but to do so with the player who is third in average, leads the team in home runs (albeit with 4), doubles, and slugging percentage left me speechless. Perhaps this was the coach's thought. Hagel failed to get his bat on the ball and Papio was a sitting duck at the plate. Cuas over slid the bag at third and was doubled up on the play sending the game into extra innings.
The Eagles put their first two batters on inthe top of the tenth with a lead off chopper down the third base line and, after Jared Price came in to relieve Brewster, a line drive to left. Price buckled down and struck out the next two batters one looking and one swinging before a standout play from Schmit who made a running back to the infield catch of a blooper to left ended the inning.
Hagel, who had been at bat when the two runners were caught stealing in the ninth led off the tenth with an infield single deep into the hole at short. He stole second after Convissar skied to right. Martir and Wade followed with walks to load the bases with one out. The Eagles employed their same strategy of adding a fifth infielder so Szefc countered with another suicide squeeze. Schmit popped the ball between the pitchers mound and third base and when the ball popped out of the diving third baseman's glove Hagel scored and Maryland had their thirtieth win.
Todd Carton (AKA FHFAN)