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Maryland women’s lacrosse takes down Florida, 17-12

The No. 2 Terps handle the No. 4 Gators on the road.

NCAA Lacrosse: Women’s Lacrosse Championship-Maryland vs Boston College Chris Bergmann-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 Maryland women’s lacrosse team jumped out to 2-0 on the season thanks to a 17-12 road win Thursday against the No. 4 Florida Gators.

The Terrapins started off fast with a 5-0 run in the first half, and had another 6-0 run early in the second half to help push them past the Gators’ physical play. Florida made the game interesting at multiple points, but only got within a goal once.

Caroline Steele, Jen Giles and Kali Hartshorn led Maryland with four goals each, while Lindsey Ronbeck had six for Florida. The Terrapins finished the game with 38 shots, 33 of which were on target, and Megan Taylor finished with eight saves.

Maryland managed to score five goals, with five different scorers, in the first 6:44 of the match. Erica Evans started the scoring, and Steele, Grace Griffin, Hartshorn and Giles added on. Florida would then respond with its trademark physical play, and finally broke past Megan Taylor at the 10:04 mark. Grace Haus would score the first two goals for the Gators, with Sydney Pirreca and Ronbeck bringing Florida within one goal after a 4-0 run.

Maryland would get second goals from Steele and Giles, while Ronbeck’s second ended the half 7-5 in favor of the Terrapins. The end of the half included an abundance of free-position attempts, as each of the last three goals was scored on such plays.

The Gators came out swinging in the second half, as they won the initial draw control and marched right down the field to score less than a minute in. But Maryland was quick and deliberate in its work to shut down Florida, scoring four straight goals in two minutes. Griffin scored her second goal, this time off of a free-position chance, then Giles and Steele notched hat tricks for themselves, which forced a Florida timeout. Hartshorn would then cap the offensive explosion with her second, giving the Terrapins an 11-6 lead.

Maryland continued to add on to its lead, with Giles and Steele scoring their fourth goal each, and extending the Terrapin run to six goals and just under six minutes. The teams ultimately traded the last 12 goals, as Florida kept trying to push past the Terrapin defense, but could not stop the Maryland offense from responding back.

Three things to know

1. Maryland came out strong on the draw control. One of the key points for Cathy Reese moving forward this season was that this team needed to be better on the draw. In the first half, Maryland won the draw control battle 10-3, helping them hold their early lead. The Terrapins finished the game with a 20-11 advantage in the category.

2. Goalie play was a key factor. Both goalies saved over 50 percent of shots in the first half—Megan Taylor had six saves on 11 Florida shots, and Haley Hicklen stopped nine of Maryland’s 16 attempts. Maryland had plenty of chances to further extend its early lead, but kept getting shut down by Hicklen, while Taylor was able to mostly keep Florida off the board early with key saves. The offenses became more efficient in the second half, as Taylor finished 8-for-20 and Hicklen went 16-for-33.

3. This game was a good early test. Maryland will now have nine days to prepare for another top-five matchup, as No. 3 North Carolina visits College Park on Feb. 24. The Tar Heels have been one of the Terrapins’ tougher opponents throughout history, with four of the last five matches being decided by one goal.