Maryland women's lacrosse fans can take one clear lesson from Saturday's 14-9 win over the Michigan Wolverines in College Park. If Maryland plays their second and third team players against Michigan, and the Wolverines play with real desperation, the Terps could be in trouble. Under just about any other circumstance, the game is not likely to be competitive.
Taylor Cummings won the first ever draw between the two programs (Michigan is only in its second year) and 45 seconds later scored the first goal. Cummings found a gaping hole in Michigan's defense and just in front of the crease. Kelly McPartland spotted her from the top of the 12 meter arc and 42 seconds into the game Maryland led 1-0. Cummings drew a foul and, forgoing the shot on the free position found Brooke Griffin - the only senior not in the starting lineup - for her 29th goal of the year.
The teams traded turnovers before two more Terps' seniors connected to give Maryland a 3-0 lead before the game was four minutes old. Kristen Lamon booked her seventh assist and Taylor Salandra her second goal. In a play similar to the Terps' first goal, Mattie Meredith spotted Erin Collins in space and the senior bounced on her ninth of the season.
After Michigan bounced back with two goals, Meredith scored on a jab step left and cut right adding her first assist to her first goal. A Maryland turnover led to another Michigan goal, the Terrapins scored two quick goals with Lamon weaving her way through the middle of Michigan's defense, passing three Wolverines scoring despite a hard foul.
Zoe Stukenberg dodged through sticks from the right side and found the net less than 30 seconds later and the Terps again led by four. The ensuing 12 minutes passed by quietly but half ended with a blizzard of scoring. Griffin scored with 1:53 to play on a free position taking two jab steps and whipping a low sidearm shot past Michigan goalie Allison Silber.
Thirty-five seconds later, freshman sensation Megan Whittle scored the first of her three goals on what was effectively a free position after she was fouled just outside the eight meter arc. Michigan responded with a quick counter attack after Silber made a save on Cummings' free position attempt. Maryland's lead was 9-4 with 44 seconds to play in the half. But the Terps weren't done.
Both scores came from Whittle. The first, with 16 seconds to play when she split two defenders and put in a top shelf shot. She needed just nine seconds to complete the natural hat trick scoring on a long feed off the draw and the Terps carried an 11-4 lead into the break.
Unfamiliar combinations of players for Maryland led to some uncharacteristically sloppy play. The squads traded missed shots and turnovers for more than 12 minutes before Maryland finally broke through. Michigan picked up a yellow card on a dangerous shot that hit Alex McKay in the head. The Terps quickly capitalized on the player advantage as Taylor Hensh found Lindsay Biondi in space. Stukenberg scored on a free position two minutes later and the Terps lead ballooned to 13-4.
By this point in the contest, Maryland's attack consisted of these players: Bryn Boucher, Kacie Longo, Deb Milani, Caroline Wannen, Shelby Scanlin, Lindsay Biondi and Bairre Reilly. Following a Wolverines score, Reilly rang up her first of the season on a free position to keep the Terps' lead at nine 14-5.
The wolverines scored four straight goals including three in the final 1:03 to make the score appear respectable. Maryland improves to 16-0 on the season and 5-0 in Big Ten play. The Terps conclude the regular season Thursday night when they host the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Big Ten championship will be on the line.
Penn State plays at Northwestern Sunday afternoon. Should the Wildcats win, the Terrapins will claim at least a share of the title. Regardless of the outcome, the Terps can claim the outright championship by beating the Nittany Lions Thursday night.