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Maryland women’s lacrosse cruises past Penn, 14-9

The No. 2 Terrapins move to 7-0 and have taken down four top-10 teams.

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

The No. 2-ranked Maryland women’s lacrosse team took down No. 6-ranked Penn, 14-9, thanks to a powerful offensive performance in College Park on Wednesday.

The Terrapins had little drama in this one, scoring eight unanswered goals in the first half to take a 9-2 lead. Penn cut that advantage to 9-4 at halftime, but never got closer than five goals in the second half.

Senior Caroline Steele led the way for Maryland in this one with five goals, including four in a row during the first half. Grace Griffin, Kali Hartshorn and Jen Giles chipped in two goals each. Penn’s Erin Barry tallied four goals against the Terrapins. Penn outshot Maryland 26-21 overall and 22-16 in shots on target, but Maryland found a way to win behind 13 saves on 22 opportunities from senior goalie Megan Taylor.

Penn scored first and each team went back and forth until Maryland took its first lead at 3-2 off a goal by Catie May. Steele then took the scorers’ sheet by storm, rattling off four goals in a row to expand the Maryland lead to 7-2. The Terrapins’ run would continue until Penn responded to make it a 9-3 game with six minutes remaining in the half. Zoe Belodeau then added a second goal in a row for the Quakers, to end the half 9-4 in favor of the Terrapins.

This match started off tough for both teams, and for the Terrapins, turnovers really kept things closer than they should have been. Maryland committed six in the first half, and combined with Penn’s 9-5 lead in draw controls, the Quakers outshot Maryland 14-13. However, the Terrapins were much more efficient and went 2-for-2 in free position chances.

Maryland started off the second half with a 4-1 run, but the Quakers were able to respond with three of their own to force a Terrapin timeout with 18:30 left to play. A pass off from a free-position chance by Erica Evans found Brindi Griffin beside the net for an easy goal to get Maryland back on track.

On the defensive end, the Terrapins were able to hold Penn scoreless for nearly 10 minutes in the second half, until Robin Panzarella made it a 14-9 game with 7:43 remaining, and then finished the game with no other goals allowed.

The Terps start conference play against Ohio State on Saturday.

Three things to know

1. Maryland struggled to get and keep possession in this one. The Terrapins turned the ball over six times in the first half and four times in the second, while losing the draw control 15-9. Draw control problems made things difficult for Maryland at the start of the season, but since that got shored up, turnovers have become an issue. Once the Terrapins can put together success on the draw and taking care of the ball, they won’t find themselves in many close games.

“A lot of [lost draws] were fouls,” head coach Cathy Reese said, “I don’t think they were real cleanly won. They were ones that they had to kind of run and hunt down.” The Terrapins suffered a number of lost draws to foul calls, which were just a luck of the draw according to Reese, and the center circle will continue to be something the team works on.

2. The Terrapins’ offensive power kept them ahead. While Maryland was outshot by Penn, it was efficient in its attack and got the job done. The team scored on its first three free-position shots, while also passing off a couple for easier goals. Rather than firing a massive number of shots on net, the Terrapins opted for more of a technical approach, and it paid off.

“Penn’s goalies have had huge success this year,” Reese said. “We needed to take an extra second to move the goalie, and I think we did a nice job of that.”

3. Megan Taylor is playing some of the best lacrosse possible. The Maryland native finished the first half with nine saves and added three in the second half. Her play singlehandedly allowed the Terrapins to get out in front against Penn, and this is after already earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors for the prior two weeks of the season, while being Nationally recognized this past week. Taylor has now saved 55.6 percent of shots she’s faced this season.

Taylor, however, was quick to deflect compliments post game, saying: “I get a front row seat to watch the best defenders in the country.” This game marked the first time this season Maryland held a ranked opponent to single-digit goals.