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Maryland women’s lacrosse handles Rutgers on senior day, 14-6

The Terps eased to the finish line to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

NCAA Lacrosse: Women's Championships Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With nice weather for a senior day that came a day early, Maryland women’s lacrosse withstood an early test from Rutgers (6-8, 0-3 Big Ten) to coast to a 14-6 win on Friday evening.

The Terps’ defense stepped up after the Scarlet Knights closed the gap on an early lead, shutting down the Rutgers attack on one end and extending the lead on the other. Five Maryland players would turn in multi-goal games as its winning streak reached 10 games.

Even though it was senior day, it was the underclassmen that paved the way for the Maryland win. Caroline Steele, Kali Hartshorn, Brindi Griffin and Grace Griffin all turned in multi-goal games, with Steele and Hartshorn notching hat-tricks. Senior Megan Whittle would finish the day with two goals and a chipped tooth, closing the gap on Maryland’s scoring record.

The Scarlet Knights got on the board first, with a goal from Paige Paratore four minutes in, but Whittle would respond with her first goal under a minute later. It was the start of a three-goal Maryland run. Steele gave the Terps their second shortly after Rutgers was given a heavily contested green card for a dead-ball substitution. Hartshorn capped the run with her first of the night to give Maryland a 3-1 lead.

Rutgers wouldn’t go away easily, winning its first draw of the evening eight minutes in, and turning it into a goal by Allison Ferrara shortly after to cut the lead to one. The Terps and Scarlet Knights traded goals for the next eight minutes, with Rutgers putting significant pressure on Maryland goalkeeper Megan Taylor. Steele and Paratore scored back-to-back goals, then Rutgers responded to Brindi Griffin’s first goal of the day with a bouncer by Taralyn Naslonski to keep the score close at 5-4.

The Terps started to pull away about midway through the first half. While Rutgers goalie Devon Kearns had some impressive saves early on, the floodgates started to leak, then burst. Taylor Hensh scored a free position goal to extend the lead, then Hartshorn gave the Terps their second three-goal lead. Brindi Griffin would get her second goal of the day right before the nine-minute mark to double up the Knights, 8-4.

Whittle had to exit the game after chipping her tooth with under four minutes left in the first half. Maryland tacked another goal onto the lead immediately afterwards, with Grace Griffin getting involved in the action. The Terps went into the half up five, after Taylor made a save to send Rutgers into halftime facing a 10-minute scoring drought.

Maryland shut the door on any comeback early in the second half, extending the lead to seven in less than three minutes. Grace Griffin added her second of the day a mere seconds before Steele earned her hat trick. Whittle would return in the second half, but was quiet until the game’s final minutes.

The Scarlet Knights broke a nearly 30-minute scoring drought, cutting the lead to 11-5 with 17 minutes left, but couldn’t string anything together. Other than that free-position goal and another score around the nine-minute mark, Taylor held stout in the second half and anchored the defense as Maryland eased to the finish. Hartshorn added a goal near the 11-minute mark to become the second Terp with a three-goal day. Whittle would put the cherry on top with under 3-minutes left, senior Jen Giles would follow up less than 45 seconds later with her first goal, just for emphasis.

The Terps (11-1, 3-0) will have four days before the first of two straight games on the road, facing Princeton on Tuesday, April 10. That game will face off at 6 p.m. ET and air on ESPNU.

Three things to know

1. It was close, until it wasn’t. After withstanding Maryland’s first run, Rutgers turned it into a game and responded to every Maryland goal with one of its own for about an eight-minute period. But the Terps put their foot on the gas near the midway mark of the first half and ran away with it. Maryland would end the day with a 24-13 shot on goal advantage (34-20 total), and were beneficiaries of an 18-10 foul disparity.

2. The future is bright. On senior day, 11 of 14 goals would be scored by the underclassmen, with four turning in multi-goal games and two earning hat tricks. While Maryland will lose a senior class that has gone 43-0 at home and 78-3 overall, there’s a lot of talent in the pipelines.

3. Whittle’s closing on the scoring record. Despite a relatively quiet game, her goals mean she’s just three away from Maryland’s all-time goal leader, Jen Adams. With four games left in the regular season, she’s almost a lock to secure the record.