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Maryland women’s lacrosse pulls away from Stony Brook, 17-8, in NCAA Tournament

The Terrapins struggled early, but climbed back and cruised to a second-round victory.

Maryland women’s lacrosse Brindi Griffin vs. Michigan Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Top-seeded Maryland women’s lacrosse overcame a slow start to handily defeat Stony Brook, 17-8, in the NCAA Tournament second round Sunday in College Park.

The Seawolves used early success on the draw to build a quick lead, but the Terrapins started chipping away and then blew past them towards the end of the first half to claim and build on a lead.

Maryland overpowered Stony Brook on offense, leading 26-23 in shots and 22-15 in shots on target, and fought back to nearly even the draw control battle. Erica Evans led the way with five goals and two assists, while Jen Giles, Caroline Steele and Grace Griffin each netted hat tricks of their own. Steele became a facilitator as well, with a career-high three assists.

Things started off less than ideal for Maryland, as Stony Brook jumped out to a 4-0 lead just 5:15 into the game. The Seawolves won the first four draws and scored off those possessions, but even though they won the fifth, the tide started to turn. After a timeout by the Terrapins, a 3-2 spurt in favor of Maryland shrunk the Seawolves’ lead to 6-3. The senior trio of Steele, Evans and Giles scored the first three Maryland goals, and put the team back on track.

To end the half, Maryland went on an 8-0 run, with the final four goals coming from Evans. The graduate senior put in the work with hard cuts and dodges, while also sticking with plays and putting in second-chance opportunities.

Just 2:07 into the second half, Stony Brook’s Ally Kennedy took a shot and her follow-through nailed Evans in the head. This produced a yellow card, her second of the game, which ended her afternoon abruptly. Kennedy came into Sunday with 84 goals and 15 assists, but was scoreless with one assist when she was disqualified. She also had a team high 118 draw controls before Sunday, and was a big factor in the Seawolves early dominance in the circle, finishing with a team-high six.

The Seawolves did get a goal while shorthanded, but Giles came down at the 21:53 mark and delivered a cross-body shot that blew past the keeper, giving Maryland a 12-7 lead. Maryland was then able to put the game on cruise control, scoring eight straight goals and ending the game with a 14-2 run.

Maryland will host Denver in the quarterfinals next weekend. The Terps defeated the Pioneers in the second round last season, and it’ll be another matchup between Cathy Reese and the team she used to coach.

Three things to know

1. Overcoming an early deficit showed Maryland’s strength. Stony Brook took the early lead and maintained it for much of the first half thanks to a 10-3 cushion on the draw control up until the scoreline was leveled at six goals. Maryland responded and was able to dictate the second half once it began winning some draws of its own and simply wore down the Seawolves.

“I actually said to my wife this morning, ‘We’ve got to jump on them early because we need to make them remember the Northwestern game,’” Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina said. “What I meant by that was ... you have practice all week and be like, ‘That was one game, we’re fine,’ but then all of the sudden you’re in a hole again. We needed to establish early, but Cathy is a great coach. She settled them down.”

2. Erica Evans and Megan Taylor took control when needed. Taylor struggled early, but bounced back and made some huge saves to push back against Stony Brook’s pressure. She finished with seven saves on 15 shots faced. Evans was the star of this game, however, scoring all five of her goals in the first half, including four in a row at the end of the half to extend the Maryland lead.

“I think the special thing about our team is it doesn’t matter who scores,” Giles said of the senior leadership. “Erica crushed it today, obviously, all over the field. Super proud of her and Caroline also as well. It’s just something that as long as we can celebrate each other, and bring out that energy, then we’ll keep it going throughout the game.”

3. The Terps live to see another game. Despite the early struggles, Maryland came through and earned itself a spot in the quarterfinals. Denver managed to pull off an upset in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 9-5, to knock off the No. 8-seed Wolverines, pitting Maryland against Denver in College Park next weekend.

“We worked hard today,” Reese said. “We played against a defense that puts a lot of pressure on you and is very physical. So it’s nice to have a week to prepare, unlike kind of a tournament setting where you’re one day, you know, 24 hours you need to get right back out there. It’ll be great to take the day off tomorrow and take care of ourselves and our bodies as our coaches prepare to play next weekend.”