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Maryland women’s lacrosse holds off No. 3 James Madison, 15-12

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The Terps remain dominant at home.

If Maryland women’s lacrosse’s No. 4 media poll ranking suggested it wasn’t still the team to beat in Division I, the Terps have emphatically destroyed that notion on the field.

Maryland was too much for No. 3 James Madison to handle Saturday afternoon in College Park, pulling ahead early en route to a 15-12 victory. The Terps’ sixth straight win moved them to 8-1 overall, and they have knocked off two undefeated opponents in three days, previously dispatching No. 7 Penn on the road Thursday.

This game was far from a decimation, but Maryland was in clear control throughout. The Terps gained separation in the middle of the first half, and the Dukes wouldn’t get closer than two goals after that. It was a familiar story for Maryland, who has won 69 consecutive home games in a streak spanning more than six years.

Freshman midfielder Grace Griffin led the Terps with four goals on four shots, while Megan Whittle and Caroline Steele added three goals each. Whittle chipped in two assists, and Steele’s third goal served as the dagger, as James Madison had pulled within two in the final minutes. Reigning National Goaltender of the Year Megan Taylor saved 12 of the Dukes’ 24 shots, which was just enough.

James Madison opened the scoring, and the teams traded goals in the early going and were knotted at 3-3 after 13 minutes. But Maryland didn’t take long to open the game up, using a 4-0 run to take a 7-3 advantage at the 11:36 mark of the first half. Kristen Gaudian, the Dukes’ leading scorer, notched two unassisted goals in quick succession to cut the margin in half, and had a good look at a third unanswered score, but Taylor saved it on a bounce. The visitors wouldn’t score again in the half.

Maryland quieted James Madison for the final 9:12 of the opening period, scoring two goals of its own in the process to take a 9-5 halftime lead. The Terps put together an efficient offensive half, as 14 of their 20 shots were on goal and nine found the back of the net. Whittle, Griffin and Jen Giles each had two goals at the break.

Steele joined that group with the first score of the second half, and after Gaudian became the first player on either side to record a hat trick, Kali Hartshorn answered to bring Maryland’s lead back to five. Griffin then scored her third of the afternoon to make it 12-6. But the Dukes stayed somewhat in it, trimming the lead to 14-11 at the 11:17 mark and prompting Cathy Reese to call timeout.

That score held for nearly five minutes, but the Dukes ultimately made it a two-goal game with 6:35 left. They had two different chances to get within one, but Taylor saved both shots. Steele’s unassisted goal with 2:04 remaining was the dagger, as James Madison wouldn’t get another opportunity.

The Terps will seek their seventh straight victory Wednesday night, when they host Georgetown at 6 p.m. ET.

Three things to know

1. Maryland knocked off another top-tier opponent. Four of the Terps’ eight wins this season have come against top-10 opponents, including three of the last four. James Madison’s first 8-0 start in 30 years wasn’t a fluke, but Maryland at home was still too much, especially with a crowd of 2,361, the largest in the history of the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.

2. The Terps’ defense quieted some of James Madison’s top weapons. Gaudian and Elena Romesburg each had hat tricks, but Maryland was able to slow down Hanna Haven and Haley Warden, both of whom entered Saturday with 18 goals this season. The duo was held to three goals combined, all of which came in the last 20 minutes.

3. Grace Griffin had a career performance. The freshman had scored a pair of goals twice this season, but notched her first career hat trick and added a fourth goal in Saturday’s win. Griffin now has 11 goals on just 20 shots this spring.