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No. 4 Maryland women’s lacrosse beats No. 12 Rutgers, 16-6

The Terps added nine second-half goals en route to the win.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

With No. 12 Rutgers embarking on its first multi-goal stretch of the game in the third quarter, No. 4 Maryland women’s lacrosse needed to respond in a big way in order to curtail the potential momentum swing.

Leading 7-5, graduate attacker Aurora Cordingley drew three defenders as she approached the cage. As she turned back, the middle opened up, allowing freshman midfielder Jordyn Lipkin to slip through the cracks.

Lipkin fired in her goal at the 8:04 mark of the third, stifling the Scarlet Knights’ momentum and then some. The team rattled off two more goals to end the period, marking another instance in which the Terps denied their opponent from igniting a spark.

The hustle of Lipkin was on full display throughout the contest and her high IQ cut to the cage was emblematic of Maryland’s gutsy 16-6 victory in its Big Ten opener on Sunday afternoon in College Park.

The win gives Maryland a perfect 7-0 record and its third victory over a ranked opponent this season. The Terps will be back in action later this week on Wednesday when they face Penn in College Park. Maryland’s home stand will continue as it will have its next two games at home.

For the first time all season, Maryland did not strike first.

Rutgers was first on the attack after corralling the opening draw control. Although the Terps nearly forced a turnover during the possession, the Scarlet Knight offense recollected and delivered, with senior attacker Marin Hartshorn sending in a blistering wrist shot.

The early deficit ignited Maryland’s offense with four straight goals in the first quarter — all on assists.

The first two came from Cordingley. The team’s leading scorer bounced in the equalizer to give her 22 on the season. A few seconds later, a miscommunication from the visitor’s backline gave Cordingley plenty of real estate for goal number two.

Both goals were assisted by junior attacker Hannah Leubecker. It was only a matter of time before last season’s leading scorer joined in on the scoring barrage.

After sophomore attacker Eloise Clevenger found junior attacker Libby May for Maryland’s third straight, Leubecker found the back of the net a possession later. That too was assisted, this time from junior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn.

Rutgers head coach Melissa Lehman attempted to stop the bleeding with a timeout, but it was Maryland’s defense that continued to apply the pressure.

Rutgers was finally able to garner some offensive possessions at the tail end of the period. However, the drought leaked into the second quarter as junior goalkeeper Emily Sterling remained rock solid in goal and players like junior defender Brianna Lamoureux continued to pester the opposing attackers.

Although Leubecker kicked off the second period scoring the Terps’ fifth straight goal, the reeling Scarlet Knights were able to break its drought soon thereafter. Then at 5-2, the physicality was dialed up, prompting three yellow cards in the quarter.

But Maryland responded well to the added aggression, countering Rutgers at every turn.

Rutgers scored twice in the second quarter, but Maryland responded on both occurrences to stymie the opposition’s attempt at a run. The Terps entered halftime with a 7-3 lead, with the Scarlet Knights 10 turnovers playing a key role.

Even though Rutgers continued to find trouble with its 11th and 12th turnover (seven unforced), its offense attacked the Terps with more ferocity out of the break. Two goals in quick succession from junior midfielder Cassidy Spilis and Hartshorn opened up the scoring for Rutgers, but Maryland stepped in and closed off a momentum swing yet again.

A beautiful catch and shoot from Lipkin, assisted by Cordingley, gave the Terps the response they needed. Seconds later, Leubecker added onto her glorious outing with a fourth goal, getting past the Rutgers backline with ease.

Maryland ended the quarter on a 3-0 run, burying the comeback attempt by Rutgers. Spilis came out of the gates in the fourth to make it a 10-6 game, but once again the Terps eliminated any momentum swing.

That became even clearer as the Terps’ offense ended the game on a 6-0 run, securing hat tricks for Lipkin and Cordingley in the process.

Three things to know

1. Maryland struggled on the draw. Maryland needed to play with grit to fend off a feisty Rutgers team. The game was won in the trenches, but the Terps gave Rutgers plenty of opportunity due to its struggles on the draw. While the home team inflicted more damage on the draws it won than the visitors did, the abundance of chances ceded on the draw circle opened up the possibility of plenty of parity.

2. Emily Sterling was phenomenal. Sterling has been slowly building a case for Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year over the past few games and today was her coming out party. The junior made 10 saves against 24 shots by Rutgers. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Sterling and the Terps have allowed fewer than nine goals.

3. Poise and patience gave Maryland the victory. This was a physical game — an appropriate introduction to Big Ten play for both teams. What set Maryland apart was its ability to do all the little things right. Defense was key, as Sterling and rest of the backline forced ten turnover to prevent any inkling of a comeback. The Terps also took care of the ball a lot better than Rutgers did, with the visitor’s committing nine unforced giveaways compared to Maryland’s five.