It wasn't bone chillingly cold at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex for Saturday's women's lacrosse game between the second ranked Maryland Terrapins and the fourth ranked Boston College Eagles but it was gray and rainy. Almost halfway through the second half it looked as though the day might turn even grayer for Terps fans with Maryland trailing the Eagles 8-6 with under twenty minutes to play. After some dramatic changes by Terrapins' coach Cathy Reese, Maryland rallied to score four of the last five and escape with a 10-9 win. The win keeps the Terps undefeated at 13-0 and 4-0 in ACC play while BC drops to 8-3 and 1-3 in league play.
The expectation entering the game was that it would be a battle of differing styles with Maryland trying to push the pace and Boston College playing deliberately and holding the ball for extended possessions. By controlling the style and pace of the game, the Eagles were able to threaten to put the first blemish on Maryland's 2014 record.
Early on, it looked as though Maryland was going to be Maryland and win that battle as the Terps controlled the opening draw with Zoe Stukenberg picking up the ground ball. Two minutes in it looked as though Taylor Cummings would notch her first goal in over two games but the official whistled the sophomore for being in the crease and disallowed the goal. Following an exchange of shots with the post making the save for Maryland and goalie Emily Mata making the save for BC, the Terps opened the scoring on a one hopper free position shot by Beth Glaros.
Maryland needed only nineteen seconds to score again after Cummings controlled the next draw and flicked a pass to Halle Majorana cutting through the Eagles' defense for a 2-0 Terrapins lead with 25:15 to play. When Alice Mercer picked up the ball on the next draw, she raced it into the offensive zone and made a terrific pass to Stukenberg by Mata came up with an even better save slowing Maryland's momentum.
The Eagles got off one shot on their counter that went high before turning the ball over with Megan Douty picking up the ground ball. On their offensive possession, the Terps tried to set up an isolation for Kelly McPartland but a quick slide forced her wide. As she circled behind the net, she spotted Erin Collins cutting down the alley on the right and the junior's high to high shot ripped the net for a 3-0 Terrapins lead.
Maryland made the score 4-0 just over two minutes later. For the fourth consecutive time, the Terps controlled the draw and after a near turnover, Majorana picked up the loose ball and her second score of the day circling from behind the net and finding space on the left for a low drive that got past Mata.
A subtle shift in momentum
After Majorana's score, Boston College won the draw for the first time and the momentum began to subtly shift toward the visitors. Sarah Mannelly, BC's second leading goal scorer spun through a double team and put the Eagles on the board. Though the Eagles again won the draw, a save by Terps goalie Abby Clipp on a high shot let Maryland counter quickly. A double spin move by Brooke Griffin opened some space close to the goal and her shot once again put Maryland up by four.
A timeout by Eagles' coach Acacia Walker seemed to resettle her team. They won their third straight draw and although Clipp made a save on a BC free position shot, Maryland failed to control the carom and paid the price. Boston College picked up the ground ball and scored on a set play to cut Maryland's lead back to three at 5-2.
Winning the draw again, the Eagles patiently ran their offense taking nearly two minutes off the clock before again finding a hole in the Terps' defense. Maryland's four goal lead had been halved. A fortuitous save by Clipp slowed the Eagles after they snatched their fifth consecutive draw.
With 3:35 to play, Taylor Cummings faked a pass to Majorana and scored on a bouncer to end a goal scoring drought of nearly 194 minutes dating back to the first half of the game at Penn. Cummings' goal gave Maryland a 6-3 lead and closed the scoring for the half as the Terp's defense came up strong and shut the Eagles down after they won their sixth consecutive draw.
Birds of Prey
The first ten plus minutes of the second half belonged exclusively to the Eagles. Though the Terps controlled the first draw, a lazy pass created a turnover that the Eagles turned into a score after running over three minutes off the clock.Thereafter, with talons fully extended, they won every draw, scored every goal, didn't turn the ball over and, except for the very brief moment after the first draw, had possession of the ball for the first ten and a half minutes of the second stanza. During that time, they ripped off five consecutive scores to move in front 8-6. The last score prompted Reese to insert freshman Emily Kift to replace Clipp in goal. Reese said, "We weren't making many saves to start the second half and they've got some great offensive players who we respect a lot. We needed a different look. Emily and Abby are very different goalies. Emily is very aggressive and we felt we needed to change things up."
In the long term, this was one of two position moves that Reese would make that turned the game in Maryland's favor. The other also involved a freshman. In this case, Reese replaced Cummings in the draw circle with Deb Milani. "We were struggling in draws throughout the game," said Reese. "We were losing draws at halftime and we needed to switch things up." Whether seeing an unfamiliar face in the circle made the Maryland wings a bit quicker to the ball or whether Milani got the ball into better spots, draw controls shifted back toward Maryland beginning when Glaros plucked the ball out of the air ending BC's run of draw controls at four.
On their first possession of the half in the offensive zone, the Terps netted a goal in under two minutes. Cummings made a determined move through the Eagles' defense and ripped home the shot defiantly tossing her crosse afterward (dropping it is required by a new rule this year) and bringing Maryland within one at 8-7.
The Terps again won the draw with Erin Collins picking it up. A minute into the possession, after faking a high pass, Glaros came up with a creative sidearm shot from the right alley that surprised her defender and Mata as it whistled inside the far post. Game tied. With Milani still in the circle, Maryland controlled the draw for a third consecutive time, and for the third consecutive time it resulted in a score. This one came from Cummings on a free position.
The Terrapins' 9-8 lead didn't last long as the Eagles broke Milani's string and, looking more like Maryland than Boston College, scored the equalizer just twenty-one seconds after the Terps had retaken the lead. Just a few seconds over fifteen minutes remained on the clock.
In the next sequence, Reese's move to insert Kift paid huge dividends. Though Cummings picked up the bounce on the draw following BC's goal, Mata picked up the save on Kelly McPartland's shot. Boston College got the clear and went into their version of the four corners offense or as I like to think of it, the four coroner's offense because it makes watching the game so deadly dull.
Eventually, the Eagles went on the attack and picked up a foul that proved to be a break for the Terps. The official ruled that the foul occurred before a BC shot that got past Kift. Given this reprieve, the freshman came up with a huge save on the free position attempt. She backed that up with two more saves - each one better than the last. "When I was watching before I came in they were shooting a lot of bounce shots," Kift said afterward. "I was getting ready for that because the turf was wet so I knew it would bounce pretty high."
On the third save Nadine Hadnagy secured the ground ball and the Terps were finally able to counter. And counter they did. With 4:19 to play, McPartland circled behind the goal and spotted a crossing Collins. The pass was good. The shot was good. Glaros' control on the ensuing draw was good. And the 10-9 lead was good until the end of the game.
Next up for Maryland: a potential one versus two showdown in Chapel Hill. As I write this on Saturday, Maryland is 12-0 and ranked second in the country. North Carolina is 11-0 and ranked first. Before they face Maryland, however, UNC has a game at seventh ranked Northwestern. Regardless, the game at Chapel Hill represents a rematch of last year's national championship game and it should be a good one.