Deceptively close again Terps move to Championship game topping Cavaliers 15-9

USA TODAY Sports

Riding the back of a record tying goal scoring spree by junior Brooke Griffin, Maryland dominated Virginia to reach their sixth consecutive ACC Tournament championship game.

The University of Maryland women's lacrosse team continued their quest for a sixth consecutive ACC Tournament Championship Friday with a 15-9 semi-final win over the Virginia Cavaliers in a game that, much like Thursday's win over Virginia Tech, was not quite as close as the final score. In the win, the terps demonstrated one of the traits that makes them so difficult to defend.

Thursday afternoon, the Hokies held the top scoring trio of Taylor Cummings, Kelly McPartland, and Brooke Griffin in check. The trio entered the game having each scored 44 goals on the season but totaled only three and Griffin was held to no goals and only a single assist. The Terps still won comfortable 14-9. Friday afternoon, the Cavaliers contained Cummings holding the sophomore to one goal and one assist. McPartland improved on her one goal and one assist performance on Thursday by finding the back of the net four times. Halle Majorana, who victimized the Hokies for four goals, scored only one against the Cavaliers.

Brooke Griffin's magic

Friday, Maryland's star was Brooke Griffin. The junior attacker scored seven goals tying the ACC Tournament record, first set by the Terrapins' Jen Adams in 1999 and equaled in 2006 by Virginia's Tyler Leachman. Griffin added two assist for nine total points one shy of the tourney record.

Griffin got the Terps on board early and quickly pulling a rabbit of a hat trick scoring the game's first three goals and needing only 2:33 of game time to do so. Griffin's first goal came 54 seconds in after Erin Collins picked up the ground ball on the draw and Zoe Stukenberg fed the junior for the early Terrapins lead. Cummings controlled the next draw and Virginia goalie Liz Colgan picked up the first of her ten saves on the game. However, it was Griffin who picked up the ground ball. The Terps got back into their offense and Collins found her teammate for the junior's second score. Griffin registered goal number three directly off the ensuing draw running just twelve seconds off the clock.

Widening the gap

After Beth Glaros controlled the next draw, Griffin proved her humanity as Colgan picked up her second save. Maryland's Abbey Clipp then showed her mettle picking up a save on a free position attempt by Virginia's Courtney Swan. Clipp and the Terrapins' defense would hold the Cavaliers to a remarkably inefficient one for six on free position attempts. In this instance, Nadine Hadnagy picked up the ground ball, the Terps cleared and McPartland rewarded her goalie by picking up an unassisted score to open a four goal Terrapins lead.

But the Terps weren't done and neither was McPartland. The junior rang up her second consecutive score. Though the Cavaliers controlled the draw, Casey Pepperman forced a turnover and Majorana joined the scoring parade. Having seen two of her teammates combine to equal her goal total, Griffin put an end to that when she found the back of the net for the fourth time. WIth 17:32 to play in the first half, Maryland held a 7-0 lead.

Liza Blue's goal, with just over fifteen minutes to play finally ended the Terrapins' onslaught. Griffin added a fifth goal eleven seconds after Blue scored. The Cavs tacked on one more and then defense and goalkeeping took over as the squads went scoreless for the final 13:43 of the half. Maryland's margin was six at 8-2 when the teams went to the break.

Second half cruise control

Though the Terps controlled the opening draw of the half, Taylor Cummings' shot hit the post and the Cavaliers put a real scare into the Terps (not really) when they came back and scored to cut the lead to five. Anyone want to guess why the Terps weren't scared? If you answered, "Because Maryland has Brooke Griffin," pour yourself your beverage of choice. Following a Virginia turnover, Griffin picked up the ground ball and scored completing her double hat trick. The junior's sixth goal of the game and fiftieth of the season moved the Terps to a 9-3 lead.

Maryland hit double digits when McPartland completed her hat trick with 22:51 to play. For the second time on the day, Griffin responded to a Virginia goal by scoring in under 15 seconds keeping the Terps up by seven at 11-4. She then turned from scoring to assist making setting up Kristen Lamon for her second goal of the tournament and an eight goal Maryland lead with just over fifteen minutes to play.

The Terps lead would balloon to nine at 15-6 with goals coming from Cummings, McPartland and Bryn Boucher. Virginia scored three relatively meaningless goals in the game's last two and a half minutes to account for the deceptively close final score. The Terps will face Syracuse Sunday with the winner claiming the ACC Tournament title.

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