Maryland women's lacrosse will open NCAA Tournament play in the second round against Johns Hopkins on Sunday. The game will be at noon at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex. These two squads played a thrilling game under the lights on the same field back on April 6th. Maryland won that game, 10-8.
"Well, we found a way to pull that one out!," head coach Cathy Reese said after the Terps battled back from a 6-3 halftime deficit to keep their undefeated record intact.
The Terrapins dominated the draw control battle in the game, but went 3-for-10 on free position shots and turned the ball over seven times in the first half.
Janine Tucker, the head coach of Johns Hopkins, made it clear before the game that her team needed to do a few key things to be successful.
"We want to try and shorten the game. I don't think we want to get into an up and down game with them. We want to try and limit their transition and make sure that we are taking good care of the ball...The more we have the ball and the less they have it, the better off we're going to be."
Johns Hopkins executed that game plan to near-perfection in the first half and for much of the game. The Blue Jays came very close to upsetting the Terps, but the Maryland defense clamped down and held Hopkins scoreless over the final 13 minutes. Maryland took its first lead of the game with 11:25 left to play, and Taylor Cummings added an insurance goal with 2:59 left in the game. This was a very close game.
The defense will need to slide and help each other from the opening whistle. Junior defender Nadine Hadnagy said that Reese's message to the team at halftime was to relax. "She said to take three deep breaths...We really picked up the intensity in the second half."
After the Blue Jays' 12-10 win over No. 15 Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Dene` DiMartino has now scored a goal in 43 straight games and has recorded a point in 52 straight games.
DiMartino scored five goals against the Terps back in April. It's the most goals that Maryland had or has allowed to a player all year. Maryland will have to do a better job on her this time around. Reese said after the game that the Terps needed to give DiMartino less space to work with in the first half and keep her off the eight-meter.
Tucker said the message from Hopkins after 60 minutes was clear. "We can play with anybody." The Blue Jays will be ready to play on Sunday afternoon. Tucker said that you don't have a pulse if you're not excited to come and play Maryland.
"Just because we have Maryland on our jersey doesn't mean we're going to win the game," junior midfielder Zoe Stukenberg said after the win against Hopkins. "We couldn't just show. We had to really go."
The Terrapins will have to fight for 60 minutes in order to beat a scrappy Blue Jays team that gave them trouble just over a month ago. The NCAA Tournament brings out something special in this Terps team and program. They seize the moment. They sense the urgency of win-or-go-home.
This is a very different group than the ones that hoisted the past two national championship trophies. This is a young team; proven and talented, but young and inexperienced when it comes to the postseason.
We know what Hopkins is going to try and do. The Blue Jays are going to try and slow the game down. Way down. Maryland wants to play a fast-paced game. If Hopkins can possess the ball for long stretches of time, it will wear down Maryland's defense and keep the ball away from the nation's most potent scoring offense.
The Terrapins didn't shoot well against Johns Hopkins in their first meeting. Caroline Federico finished with 10 saves in that game. Maryland will have to attack her early and often. 10-for-30 is an atypical shooting percentage for Maryland, and this team has to be better than 3-for-10 on free positions.
Maryland's defense got Hopkins to turn it over on three consecutive trips inside the Maryland third in the last 13 minutes. That last 13 minutes was the turning point in the game.
The Terps need to play hard from the opening draw. "You're going to see us come out on fire," Reese said earlier this week. "We're going to get caught on our toes, not on our heels."
The Terrapins aren't thinking about the national championship right now. They're focused on Johns Hopkins and they should be. The Blue Jays had the Terps on the ropes back in April. Now, they'll be looking to put them on the canvas.
This game will be intense. Look for Maryland to pick up the pace whenever possible and for the defense to help the offense in transition. Look for Taylor Cummings to continue to dominate in the draw circle, on offense and on defense.
It will take a complete team effort to beat a Johns Hopkins squad that knows it let one get away last month. Every possession will matter. Every moment will matter.
60 minutes. Survive and advance.