After a scoreless second quarter for No. 8 Maryland women’s lacrosse gave No. 10 Virginia a three-goal halftime lead, the Terps had to find a second gear in a pivotal third quarter.
It started off promising, with the aggressive work on the draw circle setting up Maryland’s offense. But it was a costly yellow card on midfielder Jaime Biskup that opened the floodgates for the Terps.
With a woman-up, attacker Aurora Cordingley found fellow attacker Libby May in her sweet spot to take back the lead. A minute later at the 5:42 mark, with the Terps still up a player, goalkeeper Ashley Vernon inexplicably crossed midfield on the clear attempt.
It was a costly mistake, as attacker Hannah Leubecker scooped up the turnover and turned on the jets to dump in the empty netter. The goal was Maryland’s fifth straight and was a part of an 8-0 run in the third quarter that proved to be the difference.
Despite Virginia formulating a solid fourth-quarter run, the Terps held on for the statement victory, 17-13, in Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday evening.
“I think the most important piece for me is that we learned a lot about ourselves,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “We learned that we can fight through a lot, we can handle a lot, and if we can be encouraging of each other we can get through difficult times.”
The 61st meeting between these former ACC rivals started off as a back-and-forth affair.
After Maryland’s defense staved off two shot attempts on the opening possession, midfielder Grace Griffin found May for the first goal of the match.
Twelve seconds later, North Carolina transfer Shannon Smith corralled the draw control and took it the distance to make it 2-0 early. The offense was getting into its sets with urgency, but the Cavaliers took a different approach.
Virginia tied the game back up prior to reaching the 10-minute mark, utilizing most of the shot clock. Two more goals from Maryland brought the lead back up to two, but Virginia once again bounced back from its opponents’ mini-bursts with patient ball movement.
Freshman midfielder Rachel Clark beat midfielder Shaylan Ahearn down the end line with seconds remaining on the shot clock to put in the third goal for the home team. Virginia wore down the Maryland defense with extensive ball movement and late dodging and cutting, ultimately leading to a 4-4 tie.
It was May, however, that continued the pattern of twos. Attackers Cordingley and Leubecker found May cutting down the middle of the crease. The sophomore picked up her third and fourth goal to make it a 6-4 game at the end of the first.
The back-and-forth trend seemed to be on the horizon, with attackers Ashlyn McGovern and Kate Miller tying it up once again. But the Terps failed to respond this time around, allowing Virginia to claim its first lead on another free position.
Maryland’s offense couldn’t get the ball rolling in the second quarter. The Cavaliers scooped up a ton of draw controls and kept the Terps on the defensive end with more extended possessions.
The prolonged tenure on defense frustrated the Terps, leading to two more free position goals by the home team. Maryland entered halftime having yielded five consecutive goals, falling behind 9-6 thanks to a scoreless second quarter.
“Virginia is a really disciplined team,” Reese said. “They played us into the end of the shot clock on a lot of possessions and were able to come away with goals.”
Reese’s squad had to regain its aggressiveness from the first quarter. The spark started on the draw circle, with Maryland dominating the category in the third quarter, 7-2.
After Leubecker and Smith brought the Terps within one, Cordingley got back into the scoring column following a quiet first half. The graduate transfer spun from behind the cage toward the goal and bounced in the equalizer.
It was then another cut from May down the gut of the Cavalier defense that allowed Maryland to recapture its lead. Four more goals, including an emphatic goal by Cordingley with five seconds remaining, punctuated a dominant third quarter for the Terps as they took a 14-9 lead into the fourth.
Virginia picked up two draw controls to open the final quarter, with each opportunity cutting into its deficit. Up 14-11, Maryland had to stifle the momentum built by the home team. It came on the backs of the defense, as a shot clock violation buoyed by phenomenal rotations notched Virginia’s 11th turnover of the game.
But the Cavaliers were unfazed. The game script trended back into Virginia’s favor, with McGovern and Biskup cashing in on back-to-back free positions to cut the deficit to one.
With the five-minute mark having passed, and Maryland facing another scoring drought, the veteran leadership of Cordingley took over. After scoring five goals in the season opener, Cordingley had produced a quiet two goals to this point.
But the former Johns Hopkins standout gave the Terps a tremendous cushion down the stretch. She scored twice, with the latter being an excellent display of patience from the seasoned All-American.
It was this type of poise that allowed Maryland to secure the tough road victory. After multiple scoring droughts and falling behind by as much as three off of five straight goals given up, Maryland showed off its resiliency.
“It was fun to get out there and play some new people,” May said. “Obviously, Virginia is a really good team and they brought the competition tonight, but it was really fun to show the ACC what we can do.”
Three things to know
1. Virginia’s drawn-out possessions changed the tides. A large part of Virginia’s game plan was exploiting Maryland’s defense with extensive offensive possessions. The patient approach allowed the Cavaliers to assess their options and attack late in the shot clock. It worked to perfection in a multitude of ways. First and foremost, it allowed them to wear down a stout defense, leading to six free position opportunities. Secondly, it kept the high octane Maryland offense idle.
“For us attackers we always bring it in and say, ‘we’re fine, we’re good.’ Just focusing on what we can control,” Leubecker said.
2. Costly mistakes from Virginia. While the offensive intensity deserves a lot of credit for its third-quarter comeback, Maryland has a ton of miscues on Virginia’s part to thank. In total, Virginia committed 12 turnovers, with half of those being unforced. The Cavaliers committed five in the third quarter alone.
3. Is the starting goalkeeper spot up for grabs? After giving up five consecutive goals in the second quarter, Reese opted to send goalkeeper Emily Sterling to the bench at the start of the second half. In came freshman goalkeeper Emily Lamparter — the top-ranked goalkeeper in the 2021 class. Lamparter saw some action last week too, albeit in a blowout. This scenario is a bit more noteworthy, as Sterling, who had a solid sophomore campaign, did not re-enter the game. Reese said postgame that the change was due to game flow.