No. 2-seed Maryland women’s lacrosse and No. 3-seed Boston College had an answer for every punch thrown in each other’s direction. With a spot in the national championship on the line at Homewood Field in Baltimore, the two sides jostled for momentum down the stretch.
Both teams traded goals like clockwork in the second half, but it was Boston College who pieced together four straight at a crucial time. With 3:06 remaining, a goal by the reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Charlotte North, her sixth of the game, knotted it up at 16.
Then, a costly turnover by Maryland set up the reigning national champs with a chance to win the game with five seconds separating the shot clock and game clock.
Redshirt junior midfielder Cassidy Weeks was the one to stick the dagger in Maryland’s hearts, scoring with 18.8 seconds left to leave the Terps dead in the water.
It was a brutal collapse for Maryland down the stretch as its stellar season comes to a crushing end in the national semifinal, 17-16, on Friday evening.
“There were some moments where inexperience showed,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “When it got a little tight I thought we were a little hesitant. Sort of got caught back on our heels instead of forward on our toes.”
Boston College held Maryland in check during the opening moments of the game. Its 12th-ranked defense face-guarded graduate attacker Aurora Cordingley and put others out of rhythm, leading to two turnovers — an eery foreshadow to Maryland’s late-game collapse.
Meanwhile on offense, the Eagles fired off six shots before the Terps could even get on the board. The damage was limited to a single goal thanks to a trio of saves by junior goalkeeper Emily Sterling, but a quick response following junior attacker Libby May’s equalizer put the Terps in a 2-1 hole.
The Eagles’ prowess on the draw set them apart in the opening period. A 5-0 advantage in the early going helped Boston College dominate the time of possession. Sterling and the defense kept it close, but the offense lagged behind to the tune of four shots.
Luckily for the Terps, two of those shots resulted in goals, but struggles across the board kept the Eagles in front. Issues on the draw and turnovers in the attacking third derailed Maryland’s momentum with the second period carrying on.
Two goals by graduate attacker North — one on a second-chance opportunity and another via a scorcher from the eight-meter — doubled up Maryland. It was all Boston College as it overwhelmed the Terps with 18 shots. However, Maryland unlocked something with about three minutes to spare in the second quarter.
All of the sudden, Boston College lost its steadiness, and as Maryland closed the gap on the draw circle, the goals came pouring in. A four-goal run over the final 3:25 of the half gave the Terps their first lead of the game.
“Maryland gave us literally everything we could handle,” head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “They were exactly who we thought they were: so smart, so athletic, fast-paced ... and obviously well-coached.”
Four different goal scorers finally backed up Sterling’s tremendous seven-save half, leading to a surprising one-goal Maryland lead at the break. It took some time for the Terps to get going, but their run to end the first half ignited a fast start to the second half.
Cordingley sneaked a shot through a tight window into the upper left corner to make it an 8-6 game just 27 seconds into the third period. Another save by Sterling looked to produce some more offense, but the Terps came up empty, allowing the Eagles to pull within one.
The teams traded goals thereafter, with junior attacker Hannah Leubecker connecting from the free position before senior attacker Jenn Medjid got on the board after getting behind the blown coverage of Maryland’s midfield.
Freshman midfielder Jordyn Lipkin scored Maryland’s 10th goal on a Superman-style layout. But even the highlight reel goal couldn’t trigger consecutive goals as sophomore midfielder Kayla Martello came the other way to make it 10-9.
By quarter’s end, the trend had persisted.
Entering the fourth quarter holding onto a slim 11-10 lead, a wild possession to start the period saw Maryland nearly turn the ball over multiple times. With their suffocating defense, the Eagles jarred the ball loose twice late in the shot clock, but the Terps stayed focused.
After all the chaos, Leubecker came out of the fray with the goal. The junior collected herself after losing possession, scooping up the ground ball and using her speed to wrap around two defenders for the score along the right side.
Sophomore attacker Eloise Clevenger snatched the elusive three-goal lead for the Terps a minute later — setting up a back-and-forth stretch that gave Maryland multiple three-goal leads with fewer than 10 minutes to play.
A few more back-and-forth sequences kept the Eagles at bay. However, a crucial stretch by Medjid and North gave Boston College exactly what it was looking for. Their consecutive goals cut it to a one-goal game with just over five minutes to play. Then, North did it again, tying the game for the first time since just before halftime.
The final nail in the coffin came following a turnover by Leubecker — Maryland’s 17th of the night. Weeks came down the other way with seconds to spare, firing in the game-winning goal to send the Terps home.
Despite leading for the entirety of the second half, the moment became too big for the inexperienced Terps as the Eagles kept their title defense intact.
“I don’t think our mindset changed, I don’t think anything besides that scoreboard really changed,” junior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn said. “I think we all played our hardest. We were playing as a team and they got the better hand of us today.”
Three things to know
1. Crucial runs were the difference. Despite all of the back-and-forth in this one, it came down to a handful of runs that changed the trajectory of the contest. Boston College started off hot, then Maryland responded to end the first half. The two traded goals all second half aside from a two-goal spurt by the Terps to start the fourth period. But in the end, the Eagles pieced together a run of their own to pull the victory out from underneath Maryland.
“Falling short at the end hurts, but super proud of all of these guys and what they’ve done this season,” Reese said.
2. Draw controls reigned supreme ... until they didn’t. Typically, draw controls lead to goals. That was the case for the first 52 minutes. Late in the fourth, Maryland secured three straight draws, yet it still let up goals on each of those occurrences. It was turnovers that did the Terps in, with each of those possessions won on the draw ending with a turnover in the attacking third.
“We talked about their pressure the whole game and definitely at the end of the game they stepped it up,” Leubecker said. Ahearn added, “In the heat of the moment, a few didn’t go our way. [They made us] do something different than we normally would.”
3. Maryland proved they are right where they should be. Entering the season ranked ninth in the country and coming off a second-round loss in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Terps had their fair share of doubters. But this season proved that the Maryland dynasty isn’t going away anytime soon. Despite the loss, the young crop of players at Reese’s disposal proved that they belong in the spotlight of collegiate lacrosse.
“We all have each other’s back no matter what, on and off the field,” Ahearn said. “You can see that in the way we play, you can see that in the way that we celebrate, you can see that in the way that we’re upset right now. But there’s nothing that’s gonna stop us again. We’re hungry.”