Maryland women's lacrosse advanced to its fourth straight national championship game after crushing Syracuse, 19-9, at Talen Energy Stadium on Friday night.
The top-seeded Terrapins dominated the first half and, after a little bit of a slow start, dominated the second half as well. Maryland led 10-3 after 30 minutes, and the two-time defending champions didn't let up. The offensive balance was on display as seven different players scored for the Terps. Maryland's defense limited Syracuse's powerful, balanced offense and effectively neutralized senior superstar Kayla Treanor.
"I think we played really well all over the field. Alice [Mercer] did an awesome job for us defensively marking up on Kayla Treanor," said Maryland head coach Cathy Reese after the game. "We're not over-analyzing things."
Taylor Cummings and Megan Whittle each scored three second half goals to lead the Terps past the Orange. Maryland opened up a 10 goal lead in the second half to get a running clock started. That is almost unthinkable in a national semifinal; not to mention that Syracuse and Maryland had battled each other to incredibly close finishes when they met at the Final Four in each of the last three seasons. Whittle, Cummings and Hensh each scored four goals while Zoe Stukenberg pitched in with three.
It started almost instantly. 40 seconds. That's how long it took Hensh to get Maryland on the board in the Terrapins' national semifinal clash with Syracuse. Syracuse's Riley Donahue knotted the game at one less than a minute later, but Hensh scored again to give Maryland back the lead just 38 seconds after that. Bryn Boucher and Caroline Steele added goals in the next five minutes to push the lead to three.
Cummings said that the Terps were ready to play from the get-go. "I think our team came out with a lot of confidence."
Maryland came into the game with the nation's top scoring offense, third-ranked scoring defense and top scoring margin. The Terps looked every bit the part of the two-time defending national champions. They came out on fire, scoring six goals in the game's first 12 minutes. Hensh finished the first half with a hat trick as the Terrapins never took their foot off the gas.
"These guys played hard tonight," Reese said.
The Terrapins (22-0) will face UNC in the national championship game on Sunday at noon.
Three things to know:
1) Taylor Hensh is a certified Orange Crusher
After scoring four goals against Syracuse in Maryland's regular season win against the Orange back in March, Hensh put together a first half hat trick in the national semifinal and finished with four goals in Maryland's 19-9 win.
2) Another familiar foe on a familiar stage
Maryland faced UNC in the national championship game three years ago and again last year. The Terps lost in triple overtime in 2013, but rallied for a historic come-from-behind win in the title game last season. Maryland beat the Tar Heels, 8-7, in Chapel Hill back in late February. This should be another fantastic game.
3) Taylor Cummings and Alice Mercer will finish their careers 9-0 against Syracuse
Kayla Treanor is one of the best to ever play the sport, but she could never lift Syracuse to a win against Maryland. The Terrapins beat the Orange on the final weekend for the fourth straight season. This win will also probably guarantee Taylor Cummings her third straight Tewaaraton Award, making her the only player in NCAA history, men's or women's, to win the award three times.