No. 2-ranked Maryland women’s lacrosse remained undefeated and clinched a share of the Big Ten Regular Season Title Thursday night, holding off No. 5 Northwestern 17-13 in a road game that took place on two different fields due to inclement weather.
The Wildcats opened the game with the most momentum, but a game of runs back and forth brought this one down to the wire. With 12:28 remaining and the game tied at 12, a weather delay forced the game to be moved inside of Northwestern’s Ryan Fieldhouse, where the Wildcats played their first five home games this season. Once inside, the Terrapins took control, scoring five goals and taking the victory.
Caroline Steele finished with five goals, Erica Evans added four of her own and four other Terrapins had two goals each. Northwestern senior attacker Selena Lasota led all scorers with six goals.
Despite a slow start, Maryland led 44-32 in shots and 30-24 in shots on target, as well as only having eight turnovers compared to Northwestern’s 10. Megan Taylor wasn’t the dominant force in goal she’s been all season, but 11 saves on 24 shots was still enough.
Northwestern started off strong, scoring the first three goals, including two within 13 seconds of each other. The Terrapins responded with a 3-1 run of their own to cut the lead to 4-3. The Wildcats were able to regain composure and momentum with a 3-1 run, but Maryland found a way to answer again with a 3-0 run to tie it at 7-7. Kali Hartshorn had a free-position chance with one second remaining that would have given the Terrapins their first lead, but it went wide right as time expired.
Despite not having momentum for much of the first half, Maryland led Northwestern 20-16 in shots and 14-11 in shots on goal. Northwestern got their edge with seven saves, compared to just four from Maryland’s Megan Taylor, and an 8-7 lead in the draw circle in the first half.
The second half started much more even from both sides, as Northwestern scored first to reclaim its lead, but Maryland responded with goals by Jen Giles and Caroline Steele to take its first lead of the game with 22:42 remaining.
The Wildcats then went on a 3-2 run to try and keep the game tied, as they were fighting Steele who scored the two goals between their conversions to try and push Maryland ahead.
With score at 12-12, the game was moved indoors due to lightning in the area. Once things started up again, the Terrapins quickly scored three goals and jumped out to a 15-12 lead.
Northwestern would add a goal from Selena Lasota to try and fight back, but Erica Evans answered right back with a free-position goal to keep Maryland ahead by three with 3:14 remaining.
The Terps visit Georgetown on Wednesday, then have an extended break before closing the regular season against Johns Hopkins on April 27.
Three things to know
1. This was the first tough matchup for the Terrapins in awhile. As a top-five matchup should be, both teams were evenly matched and fought down to the wire. This was the first game since March 9, against Syracuse, that Maryland allowed more than 10 goals and faced an opponent that truly matched the Terrapins on both ends.
“Even though we didn’t lose, we learned a lot of lessons from this game,” Evans said. “Obviously we have things to work on going into the next few games and into the [Big Ten tournament], but I think it was a good learning lesson for us and I think it’ll help us in the future.”
2. Northwestern’s goalkeeper had a career day. The Wildcats changed things up and gave senior Mallory Weisse her first start since 2017, and she tied her career high with 13 saves. Her strong first-half performance of seven saves helped give Northwestern momentum, and without that, the Terrapins probably would have had a much stronger day offensively.
3. The draw control kept Northwestern in it. Maryland kept turnovers down, even in the tough conditions before switching indoors, but the Wildcats were able to win the battle in and around the draw circle, 17-15, which helped them keep pace throughout the first three quarters of this game.
“It is what it is,” head coach Cathy Reese said of the tough battle in the center circle. “That was just one of those games. They’re good at the center too. Their person that takes the draw did a really nice job coming up with it. Sometimes it got in her stick and we lost it, or it was checked out, but overall I think it was a pretty clean battle in the middle of the field.”