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Maryland women’s lacrosse’s comeback win over Navy was eerily familiar

Just like last year, the Terps faced a second-half deficit and erased it convincingly.

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

Despite being down three goals with less than 20 minutes to go until elimination Saturday, Maryland women’s lacrosse never panicked.

A trip to the Final Four was on the line, but the Terrapins weren’t too concerned. Having made nine straight Final Fours entering play, Maryland has been in these situations before.

“We’ve been here before,” senior attacker Megan Whittle said. “We’ve been ahead by a lot, we’ve been behind. It’s composure.”

In fact, the team was in a nearly identical one last season. Against Stony Brook for a chance to play on Memorial Day Weekend, the undefeated Terps trailed by four goals with less than 15 minutes left. Taylor Hensh scored to kickstart a 6-1 run, leading the Terrapins to a 13-12 victory and sending them to Foxborough, where they finished an undefeated season with the national title.

So having been in that spot before, Cathy Reese’s team knew just what to do. This time around, it was Hensh once again who stepped up to spark the offense. In what could have been her final game at Maryland, the senior fought her way inside to earn a free-position shot. She converted, and the game’s tide had shifted. “Taylor always steps up in the Elite Eight, as she always does.” Whittle said.

Jen Giles scored less than two minutes later, paving the way for Megan Whittle to shine in the biggest moment of the season thus far. Now the second-leading goal scorer in NCAA History, the stage was set for the senior to add to her lengthy resume.

For nearly the first 50 minutes, Navy had held Whittle scoreless. It was uncharted territory for the program leader in career goals scored, but fortunately for Maryland, she wouldn’t be kept that way for long. “She just broke through,” Navy head coach Cindy Timchal said.

It took Whittle less than five minutes to tie the game, take the lead, and add another goal to ensure Maryland would stay ahead. It speaks to her talent that she can flip the switch that quickly, but her resilience and perseverance was even more noticeable. She was hit time and time again by Navy’s defense, but still shined down the stretch.

“Everyone had my back,” Whittle said. “Everyone kept me in that game.”

The Terrapins were once down 14-11, and 12 minutes later they led 16-14. When it mattered most, they showed why Maryland is such a force to be reckoned with year after year.

Hensh scored with four minutes to go, giving her a hat trick with all three goals coming from the eight-meter line. The Midshipmen got a goal late, but by that point the game was out of reach. Just like 2017, this year’s quarterfinal game saw the Terps overcome a late deficit by closing on a 6-1 scoring run.

Now the Terrapins are off to their 10th straight Final Four, this time at Stony Brook. Their first opponent? The Boston College Eagles, who Maryland beat in the championship game last season. With all of the parallels present thus far, the Terps hope the final outcome is the same as well.

“We love this,” Whittle said. “This is our goal. We’re very excited, but we have to take it a game at a time, a day at a time.”