Maryland women’s lacrosse cruised to a 17-8 victory over Denver in the NCAA quarterfinals Saturday in College Park to advance to its 11th consecutive Final Four.
The top-seeded Terps were in control throughout, holding a sizable lead most of the way. Denver entered Saturday allowing less than seven goals per game, but Maryland’s offense had its way.
Caroline Steele led the way with a career-high seven goals and one assist, surpassing the 200-goal plateau in the process. Brindi Griffin added four goals of her own and Erica Evans added a hat trick.
The Terrapins led 26-16 in shots on goal, had an 18-9 advantage in the draw circle and caused 13 Pioneers turnovers. Maryland also held Denver scoreless on all eight free-position chances, while scoring on four of its own seven tries.
This game started off rather even, with each team getting stops on the defensive end, but Maryland was able to cling to a 3-2 lead with 17:43 left in the first half. From that point forward, the Terrapins ended the half with a 6-1 advantage, carrying a 9-3 lead into the locker room. Steele led the way with four goals and one assist in the first half alone.
In the second half, Maryland simply kept rolling out of the gate. Steele scored just 1:34 into the second frame, as the Terrapins held a 4-1 advantage through the first 10 minutes. With 19:44 remaining in the game, Brindi Griffin tied her career high with a fourth goal, which also started a running clock as the scoreline hit 14-4.
Both teams were able to trade chances late, but Maryland ultimately held on to claim the nine-goal victory.
Three things to know
1. Caroline Steele continues to shine. The senior finished this game with seven goals and one assist, marking the fifth time in the last seven games she’s reached at least five points. Her sixth goal, which tied a career high, also marked the 200th goal of her college career.
“I mean, Steele is absolutely awesome at that,” Brindi Griffin said of her senior teammate’s ability to read defenses and make hustle plays. “Not a lot of people can do what she does. It’s always fun playing beside her.”
2. Maryland extends its incredible home win streak. With this win, the Terrapins close the book on another successful season playing in College Park, advancing the program’s win streak to 87 games in a row. Though this season was played away from the Field Hockey and Lacrosse complex, Maryland and its seniors went out on top.
“I mean, best place on Earth, right?” Steele said of playing in College Park. “To win my last game at home, to never lose here ... it speaks to our team and our coaches. The senior class, we’ve just all worked so hard to get here and we’re excited to go back to another Final Four.”
3. A familiar face awaits in the NCAA semifinal. Maryland will face off with Northwestern next Friday in Baltimore, the same place where the Wildcats became the first team to take down the Terrapins this season. Each of the top four seeds advanced to championship weekend, marking the second year in a row that the four best teams are playing for it all.
“Well, Northwestern, they’re good,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said as she went on to applaud the Wildcats’ all-around depth. “I think when we came off that and had the opportunity to sit back and look at our play, we had a lot to do differently. We wish we could kind of go back and do that differently, and now we have the chance to.”