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Maryland women’s lacrosse advances to Big Ten title game with 16-11 victory over Johns Hopkins

The Terps were in control from the start, and they’ll play for another conference tournament championship.

NCAA Womens Lacrosse: National Championship Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After a 16-1 regular season, Maryland women’s lacrosse earned the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. It didn’t take long for the Terps to show their worth as a powerhouse as they steamrolled Johns Hopkins on the way to a 16-11 victory.

Everyone played their part in the blowout win. Caroline Steele took the game into her hands early on, scoring Maryland’s first three goals of the game to give the Terps a lead they’d never relinquish. The junior finished with five goals on just seven shots, perfectly exemplifying the word efficient. And if that wasn’t enough, Steele also added two assists.

Freshman Grace Griffin had a great game as well. The youngest Maryland member of the All-Big Ten team had four goals on six shots as she used her size and length to fight inside and impress the national audience. She’s improved all year, and that level of play has continued in the postseason.

Johns Hopkins struck first just over a minute into the game thanks to a goal from Mackenzie Heldberg, and the Blue Jays players were immediately fired up. The game had just started, but Hopkins had the momentum.

Then Steele happened. The junior answered the Blue Jays’ score in 25 seconds to tie the score, and then she took the lead less than a minute later. And if that wasn’t enough, she completed her hat trick at the 25:19 mark of the first half. Despite Hopkins’ early goal, the game was now fully in the hands of the Terps, and the scoring run wasn’t close to over. Including Steele’s spark, Maryland scored eight unanswered goals in a span of 16 minutes.

The next strike came from Meghan Siverson, who converted on a free-position opportunity to extend the lead. After Jeanne Kachris was assessed for the Blue Jays, Maryland had the man-up advantage. They wouldn’t squander the scoring chance as Steele scored her fourth goal of the game to make it five straight goals for the Terrapins. It took her under 14 minutes to effectively end the game.

The next trio of scores came from Brindi Griffin, Grace Griffin and Siverson, who wrapped it up by getting her second goal of the game. With the score 8-1 in Maryland’s favor, Johns Hopkins started to show some fight.

The Blue Jays scored three straight goals, the last of which was from Heldberg, giving the sophomore a multi-goal game. But once the game got relatively close, the Terps put their foot back on the gas pedal. Steele’s fifth goal of the day ended a near-10-minute scoring drought to push the lead back to five, and Megan Whittle got on the board just 19 seconds later. With 17 seconds left in the half, Grace Griffin scored once again to make the score 11-4 heading into the break.

The second half began just as the first did, as Heldberg completed her hat trick to kick off the scoring. But Grace Griffin did the same only 20 seconds later, giving the freshman yet another standout game in her debut season.

The rest of the early second half was just as imbalanced as the first was, with Maryland controlling both the clock and the scoreboard, a lethal combination. The running clock was instituted with over 20 minutes left, but Hopkins went on a run against the second-stringers to keep the score within 10.

Three things to know

1. Caroline Steele was superb. The game had just started, but nobody wants to be down in a postseason game. Steele ensured that the deficit would be temporary. Her first-half outburst allowed the Terps to pull away before the Blue Jays could get their bearings. If she plays to a similar level going forward, Maryland will be borderline unstoppable.

2. Megan Whittle wasn’t, but it didn’t matter. The senior Tewaaraton Award nominee had four goals in her last game, but she was inefficient, having taken 12 shots. On Friday in the Big Ten Tournament opener, Whittle scored just one goal on nine shots, a troublesome percentage to say the least. Fortunately for Maryland, Steele and Co. were there to pick up the slack.

3. Another trophy is within reach. Maryland’s opponent is unknown at the moment, but the team has little to be worried about regardless of who wins the next semifinal matchup between Northwestern and Penn State. Both teams fell at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex, losing 20-16 and 13-8, respectively. Things will likely be different on a neutral field, but the Terps remain the favorites to take home the title.