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How Maryland women’s lacrosse handled a venue change in the middle of its game vs. Northwestern

The Terps moved from outdoors to indoors in a win they won’t soon forget.

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

The whistle blew with 12:28 remaining in Maryland women’s lacrosse’s intense road matchup with Northwestern on Thursday night. Both teams were ranked top-five in the country and battling for first place in the Big Ten, and the game had already been through plenty of twists and turns en route to its 12-12 score.

With rain pouring down at Martin Stadium and lightning in the area, officials stopped the game and the No. 2 Terps and No. 5 Wildcats entered a weather delay. Five to 10 minutes later, Northwestern officials opted to move the game inside to Ryan Fieldhouse. The game ultimately resumed around 45 minutes after the weather delay began.

Ryan Fieldhouse hosted Northwestern’s first five games of the season—let’s just say Evanston, Illinois, isn’t the warmest place in February and March—but with the Big Ten Network airing Thursday’s game, the teams started the contest outside. When weather made that untenable, moving indoors became the best option. It’d essentially be like the Terps moving a game from Maryland Stadium to Cole Field House, and in this case, the lines were already on a field and a quick transition was possible.

“Credit to Northwestern’s staff. They did a fantastic job, their facilities staff, of getting the facility game-ready within maybe 15-30 minutes,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said Tuesday. “It was a beautiful facility and it was nice that they had the option to do that. And so that was something they presented to us, and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’”

Reese, who has been around lacrosse her whole life, said she hadn’t been a part of anything like what happened Thursday night. But as both teams and even some fans relocated, she had to remind her team that there was still a game to win. Ultimately, Maryland did just that, outscoring the Wildcats 5-1 after the restart to win 17-13 and remain undefeated for the season.

“I’ve never really had something like that. I was not expecting it,” senior midfielder Jen Giles said. “But the weather is something we can’t control. That’s something Cathy always talks about—just don’t worry about the things you can’t control, and we tried not to do that and just take it as it went.”

Each player interviewed cited the indoor lighting as the most notable adjustment with the venue change, and they also mentioned the challenges of remaining focused through an extended break. But the Terps scored twice in the first 2:15 after the restart, and seemed to see the ball well against the fieldhouse walls. Reese specifically lauded senior goalie Megan Taylor, who surrendered just one goal to a top-flight Wildcats offense down the stretch.

For both timing and logistical reasons, the game’s conclusion was not aired on BTN. And with Northwestern’s Sports Information Director operating the live stats, Maryland SID Ben Kessler streamed the game on Periscope, accessible from the team’s Twitter account. It was a tough balance, as he stopped broadcasts during timeouts so he could keep firing off tweets, but he was able to capture the Terps’ strong finish.

“So obviously tweeting’s important, so I stopped [the Periscopes] to tweet, and people were gonna watch the next one,” Kessler said. “Initially I was kinda thinking how to do it, and I had our video guy Tim ... take videos of the goals on his phone, send to me, I stopped the Periscope for two or three of the goals and then tweeted them.”

Thursday’s game was memorable even before the relocation. Northwestern led by three goals multiple times in the first half, giving Maryland its largest deficit of the season. But the Terps rallied to tie it at intermission, and the teams were back-and-forth in the second half before Maryland pulled away. Add it all up and it’s a game the participants will remember for a long time.

“I remember in high school, one of my games got in a lightning delay for like two hours, which is something that we were stuck in a locker room for a while,” sophomore midfielder Grace Griffin said. “But luckily that didn’t have to happen here, so it was nice that we just got to keep on rolling through as quickly as possible and keep our energy up.”

The Terps have two regular-season games left, first at Georgetown on Wednesday night and then at home against Johns Hopkins on April 27. After that, it’s time for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. But in a season where Maryland has made a habit of throttling premier opponents, the Northwestern game will stand as an example of the Terps overcoming adversity on and off the field.

“I’m proud of my kids for handling the pressure, and handling the comeback, and handling kind of the environment, the situation, all the things you can’t control, the way that they did to come out with a win,” Reese said.