Graduate attacker Aurora Cordingley spent four years with Johns Hopkins before transferring to play for head coach Cathy Reese and the Maryland women’s lacrosse program.
Cordingley’s return to Homewood Field on Saturday did not go as she had envisioned. In the closing seconds of the third quarter, Maryland’s leading scorer was held to just two shots, with the Blue Jay defense having neutralized their former teammate.
But a late turnover by sophomore defender Cameron Levine left the window of opportunity open for the former Hopkins standout to make an impact.
Cordingley earned an attempt from the eight-meter with seconds remaining. She ripped a low shot past graduate goalkeeper Kathleen Garvey, which found the back of the cage with 1.6 seconds to spare in the quarter.
“It’s a lot emotionally and so I was pleased with how she stepped up,” Reese said. “They were trying to deny her the ball and made it real difficult to get it to her, but she never stopped working.”
It was a definitive moment for not just the returning Cordingley, but for a Maryland team that struggled to shake the persistent Blue Jays all afternoon. The 11th goal of the game ignited a one-sided fourth quarter that ultimately brought the Terps to victory, 17-6.
“Something that’s so special about her is that she’s such a team player,” junior attacker Libby May said. “It doesn’t matter who’s scoring as long as Maryland lacrosse is scoring and generating offense.”
Ten different players scored for the Terps, with May leading the way with four goals.
Maryland has struggled of late with winning the draw control battle and that reared its ugly head out of the gates against Johns Hopkins.
After collecting the opening draw, the Blue Jays jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the first possession. This was just the third time the Terps have fallen behind 1-0 all year, but they were unflustered the rest of the way.
Five straight goals ensued, coming via junior sophomore midfielder Shannon Smith, May and sophomore attacker Eloise Clevenger.
Smith struck first after a forced turnover by junior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn. Fifty seconds later, May forced in her 27th goal of the season. Clevenger then took a wide, right-handed wrap-around for the score.
Its momentum stalled for a bit, but Maryland rattled off two late goals — one from Smith on the free position and the second from May as she fell away from the cage.
With 19 seconds remaining in the quarter, the Terps seemed to be coasting along with a stronghold 5-1 lead. But Hopkins delivered one final blow, with junior attacker Maeve Barker beating the buzzer.
Although Maryland scored first, Barker and the Blue Jays continued to lurk in the shadows. Hopkins quickly went the other way to return its deficit to four and its defense remained firm, forcing the Terps into nine first-half turnovers.
Turnovers aside, Maryland kept on attacking. Clevenger notched her second career hat trick as she lost her defender from behind the cage, which forced graduate goalkeeper Kathleen Garvey to help, leaving the net vulnerable.
Ahearn did the same thing on the next possession. Smith corralled the draw control and initiated the offensive attack. Ahearn pulled off a juke reminiscent of Clevenger’s, which again drew Garvey in to compensate for the delayed coverage by the defender.
For the second straight period, the Terps had dominated a significant portion of the 15-minute frame. But just as they did in the first, the Terps ceded some late fuel to the Hopkins offense.
Graduate midfielder Shelby Harrison and sophomore midfielder Georgie Gorelick brought the Blue Jays to within three as halftime approached. Harrison nearly forced in another end-of-quarter strike, however, junior goalkeeper Emily Sterling kept the home team at bay.
“They’re going to get shots and just our job is to force them to those bad angle shots and [Sterling] came up with every single save,” graduate defender Abby Bosco said.
Despite the score indicating otherwise, it was a fairly even contest. After all three meetings in 2021 ended by a one-goal difference, all in Maryland’s favor, this rendition of the in-state rivalry had the makings of a tight finish.
May scored 30 seconds into the third period, but defense then took over for both sides as time waned away. By the time the fourth quarter had begun, Sterling and Garvey combined for 19 saves.
Some late yellow cards summed up a physical third quarter. Neither team gained much offensively aside from a highlight-reel goal by freshman midfielder Jordyn Lipkin.
She scored just the third goal of the period on a rebound attempt in front of the cage. The initial shot from May ricocheted off of Garvey’s stick. Without regaining possession on the save, the ball laid free for Lipkin to scoop up and deliver into the back of the net, all in one motion as she fell to the turf.
With Lipkin’s goal, the Terps held just a 2-1 goal advantage in the third. But a costly turnover late in the clock for Johns Hopkins registered a pivotal last-second goal from Cordingley that set the Terps up for a solid finish.
Maryland went on cruise control from then on, increasing its run to eight straight goals. Cordingley was able to get a second goal past her former teammates on another free position score before junior attacker Hannah Leubecker and May padded the lead.
Bosco then put the exclamation point on the contest with a coast-to-coast score for her first as a Terp.
After struggling to put away its pesky Big Ten counterpart, Maryland yielded just one goal in the second half to improve to 2-0 in conference play.
“We’ve always been firm believers that our defense is going to set the tone for our team,” Reese said. “For us defensively, the importance of being able to communicate, to play together, to have each other’s backs is crucial to our success.
Three things to know
1. Maryland finishes its road trip on top. While Maryland’s confidence never wavered following its first loss of the season to James Madison, the impending road trip presented a fair share of challenges. Not only did the Terps bounce back and win both of its road games this week, but they did it with tremendous poise. From Barretta’s injury to a continued lack of dominance on the draw circle, this team could have folded under the pressure. Instead, Maryland thrived under the circumstances.
“Things happen and the ability to rebound and the availability for other people to step up and lead is an opportunity that we need to take advantage of,” Reese said.
2. Torie Barretta has been ruled out for the season. After exiting in the second quarter against Georgetown, Barretta did not return with an apparent knee injury. The diagnosis was confirmed to be a torn ACL prior to the opening draw today. Barretta is officially done for the season. She finishes her career with 38 ground balls and 22 caused turnovers.
3. Maryland notched its 750th win in program history. With its 17-6 victory, Maryland became the first program in Division I women’s lacrosse history to reach the 750-win mark. It’s a historic milestone for the storied program. Sue Tyler oversaw the transition to Division I before Cindy Timchal took over in 1991 and continued the team’s success with nine national championships. Reese then kept the winning tradition alive, successfully guiding the Terps’ transition from the ACC to the Big Ten and capturing five national titles of her own.