Maryland women’s lacrosse is getting hot at just the right time. After the penultimate game of their regular season, the No. 3-ranked Terrapins extended their winning streak to 13 consecutive games with a 13-8 win over No. 15 Penn State in College Park.
Megan Whittle turned in a five-goal performance to lead the Terps’ box score once again. In the past few games, she took a backseat to some of the other stars on this team, but against Penn State it was her show.
It didn’t take Maryland long to get on the board, as sophomore Kali Hartshorn put one in the back of the net just over two minutes into the game. That was immediately followed up by Grace Griffin, a freshman that is turning heads with a 21-goal debut season.
But Penn State’s star came to play as well, as leading goal-scorer Katie O’Donnell took it upon herself to tie the score. A goal at the 25:41 mark cut their deficit, and after a long period of great defense and goaltending, the score was tied seven minutes later.
Griffin converted on a free-position shot to retake the lead a minute after that, and last week’s hero Steele extended that advantage to two goals shortly thereafter. Maryland held a 4-2 lead for more than 11 minutes when Maggie Gallagher cut it back to a one-goal game. Not wanting to head into the halftime break only up one score, the Terrapins turned to their leader and the program’s leader in career goals scored. With just 28 seconds to go, Whittle ripped one by Lucy Lowe for her 57th of the season to give her team a 5-3 lead.
Much like it was against Ohio State, the second half was all Maryland. Despite being down a player after a yellow card against Grace Griffin was assessed, Whittle was able to open up the second half scoring to extend the Terrapins’ lead. That started the run that would leave Penn State wondering how the game got away from them so quickly. First it was Brindi Griffin to pad the lead, and then Whittle scored twice in less than 90 seconds to make it a six-goal game.
O’Donnell put the Nittany Lions back on the board, but before any modicum of a comeback could be achieved the Terps had scored again. This time around it was freshman Catie May who beat Lowe at the net, making it the first career goal for the former No. 5 recruit in the country. Steele scored again to push the score to 11-4, and the game seemed all but over.
When there were seven minutes remaining, Penn State went on an inspired run to make the game close. The team was led by O’Donnell once again, putting together one of the best performances in the country this season. Thanks to three more scores from her (giving her six goals on the day) and one from Kayla Brisolari, Maryland’s 11-4 lead was suddenly dwindled to just three.
But when they needed a goal to pull away, the Terps turned to their senior captain. Whittle scored her fifth of the game to ice the victory. A goal by Taylor Hensh with a minute left only put a stronger hold on what would be the team’s 14th straight win.
Maryland’s final regular season game will be against Northwestern on Thursday night at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Three things to know
1. Megan Taylor was dominant. Thursday’s win was just another great performance from the junior goalie, who has been on an absolute tear as of late. Taylor struggled for two minutes late in the second half, but the other 58 minutes were special. Eighth saves to just four goals allowed before late in the second half helped Maryland maintain a large lead.
2. So was Megan Whittle. She’s broken the record, but the senior keeps adding to her ever-growing resume. With five more goals in this one, Whittle now has 61 on the season. And with one regular-season game and the entire postseason remaining, she is well on her way to breaking her previous season-high.
3. Just one regular-season game left. The Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments are still to come, but the Terps are a week away from another dominating regular season. It’ll be a tough matchup against a top-10 team in Northwestern, but Maryland is one week away from a 16-1 record entering the postseason.