For the second straight season, Maryland women’s lacrosse defeated Northwestern to win the Big Ten championship and remain undefeated. The Terps pulled away in the second half to win 14-6.
Megan Taylor was a force on the day, making life miserable for the Northwestern offense. She finished with 16 saves on 22 attempts. Even when the Wildcats got good looks, Taylor shut them down to avoid any extended runs.
The game also marked the return of both Jen Giles and Meghan Doherty who both missed the semifinal game vs. Johns Hopkins. The duo returned to the lineup and made their impact felt early and often.
Caroline Steele continued her hot play with another explosive offensive performance. She scored four on Northwestern, bringing her total to 15 goals in her last three games and 10 against the Wildcats this season. Steele was named the MVP of the tournament.
Zoe Stukenberg and Kali Hartshorn also scored hat tricks after combining for two goals total against Northwestern 10 days ago. Giles, Megan Whittle, Taylor Hensh and Brindi Griffin also scored.
Maryland’s defense was the story of the first half, not allowing a goal until almost a quarter of the way into the game. After letting up 16 goals against Johns Hopkins, the Terps clamped down defensively and held Northwestern to four goals through 30 minutes. Both Giles’ and Doherty’s return made a huge difference on the defensive end.
Offensively, five different Terps scored twice, and none of them were Whittle. Stukenberg, Steele, Hensh and Griffin registered a goal, and Hartshorn scored twice. Still, the Terps left some potential scores on the field in the first, and played better than the 6-4 score implied.
The second half was very similar to the first, with suffocating defense and a balanced offense. Maryland held Northwestern to two second half goals in a two minute stretch, and five combined goals by Stukenberg and Steele were too much for Northwestern to handle.
Northwestern played a very physical game, even more so than last time these teams played. The Wildcats committed 39 fouls, and at one point were on pace for a foul a minute in the first.
Maryland awaits its seeding in the NCAA tournament, but no matter who they play the game will be in College Park.
Three Things to Know
- Maryland’s defense frustrated Northwestern out of breaks. The Wildcats were scoreless for 14:32 to start the first and 13:35 to start the second. This led to two separate Maryland runs, first 4-0 then 5-0, which ultimately put the game out of reach for Northwestern.
- Maryland succeeded despite a struggling Megan Whittle. The junior only had one goal today and missed some quality shots. The fact that this team can win without her having a big presence notes how deep and balanced it is.
- Maryland will find out its NCAA path tonight. The Terps should be the top overall seed in the 26-team tournament, but the way they are playing, it doesn’t matter who they go up against. Maryland is ready for another championship run.