No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse had its hands full with the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays this evening in its second straight Big Ten matchup.
After a 5-0 scoring run by the Blue Jays in the third quarter, a tight finish was in store. With five minutes left, Libby May and Kori Edmondson put together a package of three scores to lift the Terps to a thrilling victory. Ultimately, the 13-12 proved to be one of the most entertaining affairs of the season.
The game kicked off with a draw control win by midfielder Shaylan Ahearn, who recently won Big Ten Midfielder of the Week. Less than one minute into game action, Hannah Leubecker went down with a minor injury, and the Terps were awarded a free position.
Kori Edmondson powered her way through two Blue Jay defenders, but rang the shot off the post.
From there, Maryland and Johns Hopkins traded a number of great defensive possessions. It included numerous caused turnovers, some bad passes and accentuated pressure around the cage.
After nearly seven minutes, Johns Hopkins scored first, capitalizing on a net-front look. It didn’t take long for Maryland to respond, however, as the offense carved up the Blue Jay defense with some cross-field passing. It led to a Chrissy Thomas helper from the wing to a cutting Ahearn. Thomas started her first game of the season today in place of star attacker Eloise Clevenger.
“We’re seeing her confidence grow, and the more confident she is, the better she gets,” Reese said of Thomas. “I’m proud of how she’s developing and growing.”
Following the score, Maryland went right back to the same strategy on offense: quick, decisive ball movement. It ended the same way as the first goal, a Thomas assist from the right wing. This time, attacker Victoria Hensh was the beneficiary, stationing herself within the 8 meter arc right in front of the goal mouth.
The Terps struggled to keep their momentum alive in the following minutes, allowing two consecutive goals by the Blue Jays. On one, an attacker sashayed right along the goal line extended for a short-side look. The other was a well-executed play following a free position opportunity in which the Blue Jays opted not to shoot right away.
Ultimately, the first quarter was a hard-nosed defensive battle, and ended in a 3-3 tie.
Thomas started off the second frame with a score, her third point of the day. Off the next draw control, Maryland concocted another scoring possession. Like a handful of goals that preceded this score, the Terps found an open attacker cutting to the middle of the field through the teeth of the defense.
Maryland then cooled off for a period of time. No to say it wasn’t getting its fair share of scoring chances, but it simply wasn’t able to cash in. The same could be said for Johns Hopkins, who stalled when Maryland was able to stick with its attacking group on switches and picks. Goalkeeper Emily Sterling, who has been on fire as of late, made a couple of sensational saves as well.
Freshman star midfielder Kori Edmondson broke the silence on a free position attempt for her first goal of the afternoon. Despite the free position numbers taking a skydive in recent matches, the Terps still lead the nation in opportunities.
As the quarter winded down, Maryland clearly seized the momentum. A late Sterling save to go with a spectacular Hensh goal was a monumental statement. The Terps led 9-4 at the half.
To begin the third quarter, Johns Hopkins put one in first, scoring just about three minutes into the frame.
The Terps were stifled for most of the frame, as each time an attacker tried to dodge their way to the net-front, multiple defenders converged to stop them in their tracks. Johns Hopkins was also more wary of net-front cutters this quarter, whereas in the previous two, it was getting carved up rather effortlessly.
As a result, The energy clearly shifted in favor of the Blue Jays, who went on a 5-0 scoring run in the quarter despite the Terps’ dominance in the draw control circle.
“Our defense, we let them out to dry a little bit today,” Reese said. “It’s not like we did a bad job, don’t get me wrong. I just think our attackers need to help out a little bit more.”
Johns Hopkins’ attackers rarely missed an open shot, and when they did, they almost always seemed to recover the attempt. In doing so, the shot clock reset, and so did their offense.
When the Terps were on attack, turnovers and missed opportunities plagued them. Even on free position chances, Maryland was unable to get any clean shots off and were instead forced to pass out of them.
The third quarter ended in a 9-9 stalemate.
The fourth segment of the game opened with fouls by both squads, but no proficient scoring opportunities came out of them. Then, finally, after 20 minutes of silence, May worked her way to the front of the cage and received a pass from Hannah Leubecker, who fed her from the top of the 12 meter fan.
But the Blue Jays pressed on, scoring twice in a row to take their second lead of the day. The Terps responded quickly, as Ahearn scored a controversial free position goal that bounced off two posts.
From there, two of Maryland’s biggest offensive threats took over. May scored twice, followed up with an Edmondson score.
“She’s strong. She’s powerful. She can finish,” Reese said of Edmondson. “Her nose for the goal and her ability to dodge is really special. She’s attacking the pressure that they’re giving her.”
Ultimately, although the Blue Jays put up a great fight, the Terps were able to outlast them, holding the ball for the final two minutes and extending their winning streak to eight games.
Three things to know
1. The Blue Jay scoring run. The third quarter of the game was controlled entirely by Johns Hopkins. First, Johns Hopkins outshot the Terps 7-4 in the frame, and 7-2 in shots on goal. Furthermore, the Blue Jays won the ground ball battle 9-3, highlighting their aggressiveness and attack mentality on rebounds.
Over the winning streak, very seldom have the Terps allowed other programs to climb back into the game. Due to the skillful and explosive nature with which they play, other teams are simply unable to keep up. However, they just couldn’t seem get their feet out from under themselves. Even after timeouts, it seemed as though there were no significant strategies being implemented on the offensive side.
“We had too many turnovers,” Reese said of the third quarter. “We just need to tighten it up, you know, but we figured it out. There’s no ‘shoulds’ in lacrosse. We have to earn it, we have to fight for it and we have to execute.”
2. Chrissy Thomas put on a show. As a replacement for Clevenger, Thomas did everything she needed to, and more. She took on a lot of similar responsibilities, primarily working from behind the net and occasionally out on the wing. Her teammates helped her out tremendously, too, often finding soft spots in the middle of the Blue Jay defense and posting up. When Thomas didn’t have the ball in her possession, she was constantly roaming around the crease area, which ended up leading to her goal.
In total, Thomas concluded the affair with one goal, four assists and five total points. Don’t be surprised to see her on the field more often in upcoming contests.
“We worked really hard together,” Thomas said of the team’s first half scoring output. “Things were just opening up and working out in our favor. I think Johns Hopkins did a good job of adjusting to us but we figured it out.”
3. The tight finish. It was a test of resilience for Maryland tonight. Not previously in the season did an unranked program challenge them like what occurred late this evening. Even after showing life in the fourth quarter, the Blue Jays stuck with them every step of the way.
With 1:45 left to play, a clutch draw control by Ahearn allowed the Terps to take a timeout and settle things down. From there, Johns Hopkins didn’t see possession for the rest of the contest, needing to foul the Terrapin attackers. Overall, this match demonstrated the late-game composure that Maryland possesses.
“I have complete trust that my [draw] circle is going to be able to win that ball,” Ahearn said. “I think that draw control just as much on Shannon [Smith] and Abby [Bosco].”