After a dominant first quarter, No. 5 Maryland women’s lacrosse stalled out in the second quarter against No. 7 Florida. Once leading by six, the lead had shrunk to two after attacker Danielle Pavinelli scored with 35 seconds remaining in the half.
All the momentum seemed to be in Florida’s corner with the clock winding down, but the Maryland attack had other ideas.
Midfielder Shaylan Ahearn collected the 13th draw control of the half for the Terps to get the offense moving. Attacker Aurora Cordingley juked her defender behind the net with less than 10 seconds left, giving her enough space and time to find attacker Eloise Clevenger for the goal with seconds to spare.
The second quarter struggles all went away as Clevenger and Cordingley embraced. This boost at the end of the half was the difference-maker in Maryland’s latest top-10 matchup. It ended the match outscoring Florida 10-2, helping to secure an 18-8 victory.
“I think the IQ side of the game is something that we’re really strong on on the offensive end,” Cordingley said. “We had a little bit of a setback in the second quarter... but we came together, we knew what we had to do... we had faith in each other.”
It wasn’t a pretty start for Maryland. After midfielder Shannon Smith collected the opening draw control, the offense missed its first shot attempt. Then, on the ensuing Florida possession, attacker Hannah Leubecker picked up an early yellow card.
Starting on defense with a woman-down, the Terps found themselves in a treacherous position out the gates. But after two shots missed the mark for the road team, Maryland was able to get back on the attack.
Despite continuing to impose its will on the defensive end, Florida ceded the first goal of the game to midfielder Grace Griffin. After several failed attempts at penetrating, Griffin pulled back and ripped a deep shot into the bottom left corner of the cage.
After starting in such a precarious position with an early penalty, the Terps began to rattle off offensive opportunities due to its prowess on the draw circle.
Maryland held an 8-1 advantage on the draw in the opening 15 minutes of action. This gave the Terps a plethora of offensive set pieces and helped to tire out a stout defense.
Despite All-American goalkeeper Sarah Reznick collecting four saves, the Terps rattled off six consecutive scores after Pavinelli tied it up from the free position.
It started with a free position of its own, as Maryland retook the lead thanks to two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Cordingley.
Cordingley continued to produce on offense — first with an assist to attacker Hannah Leubecker then followed up by her 11th goal of the season. Both scores came after turnovers by Florida, caused by Clevenger and defender Brianna Lamoureux.
By the quarter’s end, Cordingley had picked up her second first quarter hat trick on the year. Her offensive maturity has been a crucial asset for Maryland and it has paid dividends in both on the field and off.
“To have someone come in and have the field vision that she has, the ability to find open players — there’s something special about that,” head coach Cathy Reese said.
Holding onto a 7-1 lead after a quarter of play, it was clear that Maryland was executing its game plan to a tee. But just as it had against Virginia last week, the momentum shift between quarters was apparent.
Florida broke it’s nearly 15-minute scoring drought with a woman-up goal by midfielder Ashley Gonzalez. Continued draw circle dominance by the Terps was curtailed by Reznick’s ability in net, allowing the Gators to go up 2-0 in the quarter at the 7:12 mark.
Cordingley finally got a shot past Reznick, but miscues began to hinder the Terps.
A unique double yellow card scenario gave the Florida attack a two-player advantage, which allowed midfielder Emily Heller to move the Gators within four. A minute later, now holding the traditional one-woman advantage, Heller cashed in again.
Pavinelli then fired in a screeching wrist shot following a failed clear attempt by the Terps.
With 25 seconds left on the clock, Florida seemed to be entering halftime with the upper hand. It had capitalized on the new format and snatched the momentum, going from a three shot first quarter to a 12-shot second.
“As we continue to work and get better, we want to keep focusing on that that level of consistency,” Reese said. “I don’t like these ups and downs. I like to score a lot and not let the other team score.”
But Clevenger delivered in the waning seconds of the half, re-establishing Maryland’s momentum in the process.
Starting the second half up 9-6, Maryland used its last-second goal to dictate the pace of the third quarter. Smith and attacker Libby May scored in quick succession after five minutes of play before Leubecker made it 12-6 on the woman-up situation.
The last second goal from Clevenger to end the first half proved to be enough of a jolt for the Terps, as they shutout the Gators in a physical third quarter.
Smith, following Florida’s ninth foul of the quarter, bookended the 4-0 stretch, clinching her first hat trick as a Terp. With another prominent third quarter, Maryland has now outscored its opponents 16-1 in the third quarter this season.
Three more goals before the ten-minute mark initiated a running clock scenario, all but ensuring a Maryland victory.
After losing to the Gators in its last meeting back in 2020, Maryland coasted to victory.
“I think it definitely gets us on a good track for the upcoming games,” Ahearn said. “That’s a team that we lost to a few years ago in my freshman year and being able to step on the field and own the game meant a lot to all of us.”
Three things to know
1. Draw controls played a pivotal role. Gaining the possession from the jump was going to be crucial against such a formidable defensive unit. Getting to the cage early and often would eventually wear down the Gators and that’s what Maryland was able to do. They flat out dominated the draw circle, outpacing the Gators by 18. Ahearn collected 14 on her own, a new career-high.
“I trust my defense completely, but why not make it a little bit easier for them,” Ahearn said. “When you win that many draw controls it just gives you time to control the tempo of the game.”
2. Maryland faired well in defending the free position. Maryland had to avoid inflicting damage on its own end to defeat the Gators, particularly in the free position. After giving up six free position goals on six attempts against Virginia, goalkeeper Emily Sterling and the rest of Maryland’s defensive group had to lock in against the eight-meter. The Terps limited the Gators to just a 2-for-7 showing on the free position, which proved to be critical in stifling the road team’s chances at gaining some traction.
“Coming off the eight-meter our girls got their sticks there defensively,” Reese said. “We got off the line a little faster than we did against Virginia so that’s a step in the right direction.”
3. Aurora Cordingley made history. Already making waves in College Park with back-to-back Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week awards, Cordingley was at it again against the Gators. With four goals and six assists, the transfer became the highest single-game scorer for the program since Megan Whittle in 2017 against Syracuse.