No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse soared to a victory Saturday over Ohio State in dominating fashion.
A big component of the wire-to-wire victory was junior attacker Eloise Clevenger, who put on a passing clinic with a program-record eight assists. She set up her teammates from the very first goal until she was taken out halfway through the fourth quarter. Her ability to place the ball in tight spaces gave the Terps a huge boost in the scoring department, and Maryland triumphed the Buckeyes by a final score of 18-7.
The game commenced with a draw control win by defender Abby Bosco, who out-jumped all other players in the circle.
Immediately, the Terps attacked the unconventional Ohio State defense, which deployed a zone trap. With rapid ball movement and repetitive cuts through the eight-meter arc, Clevenger found fellow attacker Victoria Hensh in the front of the net. Just less than one minute into the match, Hensh found the back of the net from point-blank range.
After missing Wednesday’s win over Johns Hopkins, Clevenger demonstrated her value to the squad, factoring into the team’s first three goals. On her score, she deftly dodged from behind the cage and faked out the Ohio State goalkeeper.
Ohio State’s first two goals came on free-position opportunities. Its third was impressive, however, as attacker Nicole Ferrara found a cutter wide open in front of the Maryland cage. Goalkeeper Emily Sterling had no chance, as there were no Terp defenders in the vicinity to help out.
Maryland then scored three times in the next few minutes of action. The first came from midfielder Shannon Smith — her second score of the day. In addition to her contributions on offense, Smith also performed exceptionally well in the draw control circle.
Overall, the first frame was full of pace, and Maryland came out on top by a score of 7-3.
The second quarter started with a bang, as Clevenger found attacker Libby May for her first score of the day just 10 seconds in. Then, Kori Edmondson forced the Buckeyes to call a timeout after she netted one 50 seconds later.
The draw control dominance by Maryland was evident early on. As soon as it retained possession, the attackers slowed things down, not giving Ohio State any fast-break opportunities. As a result, the Terps were able to consistently get good looks all quarter long.
Maryland was as stout as ever on defense, forcing Ohio State to constantly attack through the middle. From there, at least two Maryland defenders were poised and ready, converging on ball carriers and allowing Sterling to make a couple of routine saves.
Ultimately, the second quarter was controlled by Maryland, who held Ohio State scoreless. The disparity in scoring was largely due the game speed with which the Terps played with. They forced the Buckeyes into 11 fouls in the frame, five of which gave Maryland free-position opportunities.
The Terps picked up right where they left off in the third quarter, scoring just over a minute into the frame. Clevenger found attacker Hannah Leubecker, who was tightly covered just feet from the goal mouth. She was able to simply tap it in, and in doing so, gave Clevenger a career-high sixth assist.
Despite trying to work the ball around slowly to formulate a method of attack, Ohio State was simply not quick enough to beat any Maryland defenders in a one-on-one situation.
“We were just working really well together,” Bosco said. “I think we were following our game plan and shifting really well together today ... that’s what eliminates those shot opportunities.”
However, the Buckeyes were able to net two midway through the quarter. Their opportunities stemmed from some sloppy play by the Terps, who turned the ball over seven times in the frame and were 1-for-4 on clear attempts.
But Maryland never gave in, always keeping Ohio State at bay. The attack found ways to go at Ohio State’s zone defense, often posting up in soft spots within the eight-meter arc. It led to a Smith goal, giving her a hat trick on the day.
“Shannon [Smith] had a great day today,” Reese said. “Watching how Shay [Ahearn], Shannon and Kori [Edmondson] can adjust and play with each other, Shannon’s getting better and better.”
Towards the end of the quarter, Clevenger picked up her seventh assist on a net-front feed to May. It tied the single-game program record and cemented a performance for the ages. In addition, Ahearn reached the 100 draw control win plateau.
“I honestly had no idea I was anywhere near that,” Ahearn said. “It means the world. I’ve grown up watching this program and wanting to be a part of it.”
The Terps led the Buckeyes by a score of 15-6 heading into the fourth frame.
In the fourth quarter, the Terps still controlled the play, even with a number of reserves getting substantial playing time. Midfielder Hailey Russo took over for Ahearn as the draw control specialist and performed well.
Additionally, attackers Demma Hall, Emma Muchnick and Maggie Weisman each saw action.
As the lead grew even larger, the Terps didn’t have a single starter present in the game. A running clock was started, and Maryland coasted to its ninth straight victory.
Three things to know
1. Eloise Clevenger’s career game. Clevenger shined after not playing against Johns Hopkins. Head coach Cathy Reese has praised Clevenger all season for her ability to play in multiple different spots on the field. Her progression as a scorer has skyrocketed over the past few weeks.
However, in Saturday’s match, Clevenger excelled at what she does best — pass. She had eight assists, breaking Maryland’s single-game program record. In addition, she had one goal, one ground ball and forced two turnovers.
“What a career day for her,” Reese said of Clevenger’s historical performance. “It was really just kind of a magical moment ... it’s just pretty powerful. So that was super cool.”
2. The defense shined bright again. The Terps’ defense gave the Ohio State offense fits all game long. With no room to operate, the Buckeyes were unable to gain much momentum. In total, Maryland’s unit held the Buckeyes to just 16 shots. It also forced Ohio State into committing 17 turnovers in what was a very physical game.
Bosco was the leader per usual, winning seven draw controls, scooping up four ground balls and forcing four Buckeye turnovers.
“Abby was all over the place,” Reese said. “She’s a leader for us on the defensive end. She’s huge for us in transition. She’s a great one-on-one defender ... she’s disciplined.”
3. Offensive output. Maryland had its best offensive game in a while. The Terps had 18 goals on 27 shots on goal. Furthermore, they won the draw control battle 19-10. What was most impressive about the offense was its number of different scorers. Eight different Terps scored at least one goal.
Shannon Smith recorded her third career hat trick and Kori Edmondson had her eighth hat trick of the season to lead the way.
“I love that. I want us to be dangerous all over the place,” Reese said of the eight different goal scorers. “We’re hoping to continue to see that more as we go, but to have all these people contribute I think is a great day.”