15th ranked Princeton is the seventh ranked team that Maryland has faced this season. All of those games were decided by five goals or less with the exception of their game against Florida and Northwestern, where they won by 10 and 11 goals respectively. The Tigers come in with a record of 8-2 with losses against Virginia and Delaware. The top-ranked Terps are undefeated and have only allowed a combined eight goals in their last two games, although their last two opponents both had losing records. Maryland is 90-2 at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex under Cathy Reese.
Maryland came out rocking their all-white Maryland pride uniforms with Maryland flags on the back of their jerseys.
Princeton secured the first draw control of the game. The Tigers took their time on the offensive end, patiently waiting for an opening. Princeton's shot wasn't a great one and it was saved by Alex Fitzpatrick. Maryland got out and ran. Megan Whittle missed a point blank shot near the goal but a bad Princeton pass gave it right back to the Terps.
Taylor Cummings turned it over on the offensive end and Princeton went back to work. Princeton took a free-position with 23:45 left in the first half and Anna Doherty put a bounce shot past Fitzpatrick to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Princeton controlled the ensuing draw. Fitzpatrick made another save but Princeton retained possession. The Tigers drew another eight meter and but Stephanie Paloscio's attempt hit the post. The Tigers scooped up the ground ball and Paloscio scored to stretch their lead to two.
Maryland picked up the draw control and took a little time getting into their offense. Kristen Lamon got the Terps on the board at the 19:37 mark as she took a feed from Brooke Griffin, who was behind the net, and made a textbook finish.
The Tigers wouldn't let Maryland attempt to go on a run as they secured the following draw control. Erin Collins forced a ground ball in the midfield and the Terps recovered. It was a big defensive play and allowed the Terps to try and tie the game. Kelly McPartland took a shot but Maryland stayed with it and kept possession. Kristen Lamon tied the game up with 17:09 left on another feed from Griffin.
Maryland picked up the ensuing draw control. McPartland went isolation and drew an eight meter. The shot was saved and Princeton went into a fast break but Maryland got back just in time to stop them. Fitzpatrick made another great save but Princeton came up with the ball and got another chance. Fitzpatrick made another save to give Maryland the ball back.
On offense, Maryland set a pick for McPartland she took her defender one-on-one and fired a rocket from the right side into the left side of the net to give Maryland their first lead of the game with 12:43 left in the first half. Out of a Princeton timeout, they corralled the draw control and Palascio scored her second goal of the game to tie the game at three apiece.
Princeton got the draw control and took the ball into the Maryland third. A bad pass from Princeton gave Maryland the ball back. The Terps capitalized as Maryland's star freshman Megan Whittle scored on an eight meter. It was her team-leading 41st goal of the year and gave Maryland a 4-3 lead with 9:07 left in the half.
Princeton continued to battle and won the draw. Princeton tied it up at four when Erin Slifer did almost a copy-cat goal from what McPartland did earlier in the game. She went right and shot hard to the left. Cummings got over-aggressive and fouled a Princeton player on the draw, giving the Tigers possession and the chance to retake the lead.
Princeton retook the lead with 5:10 remaining in the first half as Erin McMunn scored in the middle of traffic. The Terps took the next draw and earned an eight meter. Princeton's Ellie DeGarmo made a save but Maryland got the ball. Cummings' shot was off the mark and Princeton took over.
McPartland got a card and the Terps were playing down a person for the rest of the half. Princeton made an unselfish pass on an eight meter and took advantage of their edge in numbers. Slifer found Princeton's leading goal scorer, Olivia Hompe, on the left side of the goal and she buried it to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead.
Cummings forced a bad shot with two people on her and DeGarmo made a relatively easy save on it. Princeton settled in for the last possession of the half as they tried to go up by three going into recess. Maryland got the ball back but carelessly turned it over and wasted their defensive effort. The Tigers couldn't score but still led 6-4 going into the half.
Princeton went on a 3-0 run over the last nine minutes of the half. At one point, Princeton was beating the Terps 7-2 in draw controls but it was 7-4 by the end of the half. Things were going so poorly on the draw that Reese replaced Cummings in the draw circle with Zoe Stukenberg.
The Terps got beat on the draw and scored a season-low for first half goals with four. They were also out-shot by Princeton 12-9 in the half. Princeton hustled more and got the 50/50 balls. They led 8-5 in ground balls and were clearly the better playing team in the first half.
The rain started to come down at halftime. The Terps came into the second half trailing for the first time this season. Cummings was back in the circle and helped the Terps capture the first draw of the second half. DeGarmo made another nice save to give Princeton the ball back. The Terps defense stepped up and Maryland came back the other way. Whittle scored her second goal of the game to bring the Terps within one as she went isolation on the left side and shot it into the right side of the net.
Maryland hustled and came up with the draw and looked to tie the game up at six. Cummings finished top-shelf but a stick check found that Cummings' stick was illegal and the goal was wiped out. Maryland was now on the other side of the stick check call as they were the beneficiaries in their games against Syracuse and Northwestern.
The Maryland defense, which has been strong all year, responded by forcing a turnover on defense. Kristen Lamon got a hat-trick as she took yet another crossing feed from Brooke Griffin. With 24:25 left to go in the game, Maryland had tied it up at six all. Maryland knocked the ball free on the draw and won possession to try and retake the lead. Stukenberg's shot missed but Maryland still had the ball.
Whittle landed a hat-trick of her own off of an eight meter to give Maryland the lead with 23:04 left to play in the half. Princeton came up with the draw. Slifer scored her second goal of the game just a minute later by juking out Cummings and sneaking a shot past Fitzpatrick to knot the game at seven.
Cummings jumped and captured the draw control and Whittle finished off an eight meter for her fourth goal of the game to give Maryland an 8-7 lead with 21:12 left to play in the game. It was a lead the Terps would not relinquish. Whittle's next shot was stopped but she got it back. McPartland got an eight meter and finished it off (although it looked like she might have gone a little bit early) to give Maryland a two goal lead, their largest of the game.
Cummings got another draw control and Stukenberg scored just 10 seconds later as Cummings found her in transition. The Terps had scored three straight and led 10-7 with 20 minutes left in the game. Erin Collins was carded and Princeton had a one-player advantage. The Tigers drew an eight meter but the defense collapsed before Palascio could shoot. Megan Douty made a huge defensive play for Maryland as she deflected a pass and gave the Terps the opportunity to get a little more breathing room.
McPartland picked up a hat-trick at the 17:52 mark to give Maryland an 11-7 lead. The Terps had three players with hat-tricks in the game. Cummings made it look easy as she picked up another draw and McPartland scored through traffic while falling down for her fourth goal of the game. Maryland had now scored five straight and seemed to be in control. The Terps picked up the next draw control and made it six straight as Whittle scored her fifth goal of the game with 15:54 left. Princeton took a time-out and at this point in the second half, the Terps were out-shooting the Tigers 17-1.
McPartland got her fifth goal of the game with a beautiful spin move on the right wing. She fired off a shot and gave Maryland a 14-7 lead, which was incredible considering how close the game had been for the first 35 minutes. Hompe ended the run with a goal with 14:11 left to go to cut the lead to six. Erin Collins came up with the draw but Maryland turned it over on offense.
Stukenberg then made a SportsCenter worthy goal as she came flying in to stop Princeton from clearing the ball, scooped it up, ran towards the goal, spun to the left, shot low and scored to push the lead back to seven. It was an incredible, high-energy play. The Terps were up 15-8 with 13:26 left to play. McPartland drew an eight meter but pulled the ball out and the Terps started to drain some clock.
Cummings finally scored her first goal of the game with 10:15 left off a feed from McPartland. It only took her nine seconds to get her second. She took the draw, raced down the left side of the field and finished. After scoring just four goals in the first half, Maryland had exploded for 13 in the second half. Cummings got denied a hat-trick on an eight meter but the Terps maintained possession.
Whittle split a double team and drew an eight meter. She scored her sixth goal of the game (her 46th of the season) with 7:52 left to make it 18-8. After being down two at the half, the Terps were now up 10 and had a running clock with seven minutes left in the game.
Erin McMunn scored her second goal of the game off of a pass from Erin Slifer as Princeton cut the deficit to nine. McMunn and Slifer hooked up again with 5:35 left in the game to give McMunn a hat trick and make it an 18-10 game. Maryland won the ensuing draw control and drained a little over three minutes off the clock. Cummings took an eight meter with 2:15 left but it was saved by DeGarmo. Maryland picked off a Princeton pass in the midfield and ran out the rest of the clock.
"It was a tale of two halves." Cathy Reese started off her post-game comments with that line and that neatly and succinctly sums up everything you need to know about this game.
Maryland was out-scored 6-4 in the first half. They out-scored Princeton 14-4 in the second half.
Maryland was out-shot 12-9 in the first half. They out-shot Princeton 26-5 in the second half
Maryland lost the draw control battle 7-4 in the first half. They had a 14-5 edge in draws in the second half.
Maryland lost the ground-ball battle 8-5 in the first half. They won that battle 9-3 in the second half.
Reese said that Princeton out-worked and out-hustled the Terps in the first half. She said that she told her team at halftime to focus on the little things such as picking up the tempo and getting back to playing Maryland lacrosse. McPartland said that the team's turnaround came from one key element, "I think it was just hustle all over the field, starting with the draw controls and in the defensive end getting ground balls. In the second half we really did everything that we were supposed to be doing in the first half that we failed to do." The ball started moving in the second half, so the offense was more precise instead of, as McPartland put it, "...flinging it at the goal like we were in the first half".
The Tigers put a scare in the Terps in the first half and Maryland looked out of sorts in almost every phase of the game. Maryland was getting beaten badly on hustle plays and draw controls. They were forcing shots on offense and were trying to do too much at times on defense. It all changed in the second half.
This was a great test that the Terps needed. They played very poorly in the first half and came out and corrected it in the second half. After Slifer's goal with 22:03 left to tie the game at seven, Maryland stepped on the gas and never looked back.
Whittle scored less with 21:12 left. McPartland scored 62 seconds later. Stukenberg added a goal just 10 seconds after that. Just like that, the Terps had three goals in 4:07. Maryland came up with another flurry of goals as McPartland scored with 17:52 left, added another just over a minute later, Whittle added another less than a minute after that and McPartland scored her fifth and final goal with 14:56 left. So after the three goals in 4:07, the Terps lit up Princeton for another four in just under three minutes. In just over fifteen minutes, (and consider that they didn't score their first goal of the half until almost three minutes in) Maryland went from being down 6-4 to dominating 14-7. Maryland scored another three goals in a span of 3:20 to go up 17-8 with just over 10 minutes to play. The game was over at that point.
Tonight, Maryland showed another mark of a great team. They faced adversity, didn't lose their cool, fought back and won. They got back to playing their style and didn't let up. They pounded Princeton in the second half and scored a season-high 18 goals in a game in which they were trailing 6-4 at the half. Simply remarkable.
"The great thing about lacrosse is that there is always a second half", Reese said following the game. For Maryland, those words rang true tonight. Princeton would beg to differ.
If you didn't watch or listen to this game and only saw the score, you might assume that Maryland casually and convincingly dispatched yet another top-15 team in it's mission to go undefeated and secure a second consecutive national title. You might think that the Tigers were yet another opponent crushed by the maw that is this explosive and ludicrously talented Maryland squad that was featured on the cover of Inside Lacrosse Magazine with the title, "Best Team Ever?" You would be wrong.
The bottom line is that Princeton kicked Maryland's butt for the first 30 minutes. They knocked Maryland off of their game and Reese was quick to give them credit after the game was over. Once Maryland got back to playing their game the way they know how, they left the Tigers in their wake.
A team this talented and this accomplished should not have been pushed like this by a Princeton squad that only beat Yale 7-5 and lost to Delaware. The Tigers are a talented and well-coached team and they may very well have just given Maryland's opponents a blue-print for how to stymie the Terps in the post-season. They played a fantastic game for the first 32 minutes and then they withered under Maryland's relentless pressure, energy and pace in the second half.
Reese said that the Terps learned a valuable lesson. "Tonight I think we learned something about ourselves, all collectively as a group, and I'm glad we did. I'm glad that we were put in a position to have to fight back and to have to step up." When the lights get brighter and the target on Maryland's back gets even bigger, the Terps will need to remember this game and this moment. The moment when they realized that sense of urgency and were determined to get back to their style of play and dominate.
This is a lesson that Maryland will need to draw from if they ever find themselves trailing like this in May. They cannot afford to waste the first 30 minutes of a game. Great teams won't allow them to come back in the second half and run all over them. If this team doesn't want to be the equivalent of the Kentucky Men's Basketball team, they will have to dominate from start to finish.