To use words in trying to describe Maryland women’s lacrosse’s dominance over the rest of its sport would feel like an injustice. The numbers shout for themselves. A 270-22 record under head coach Cathy Reese. Eleven straight Final Fours, with eight appearances in the title game. And now, after a 12-10 win over Boston College on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, another national championship.
It’s a sport that’s getting deeper every year. The Terps’ 22-1 record didn’t come without overtime battles or a series of early deficits. But against arguably the nation’s toughest schedule, Maryland showed time and time again why it’s still the team everyone else is gunning for. And in Sunday’s matchup of the nation’s two best squads all season, the Terps never trailed once.
Maryland teams have always had their individual stars. But the 2019 group had as much depth as any of them. Six Terps scored at least 40 goals this season, there weren’t any holes on defense, and nobody ever worried about senior goalie Megan Taylor. Eight of Maryland’s 11 starters were All-Big Ten selections, and the backups were always ready to step in when needed.
This success and the program’s winning culture go hand in hand. It starts with Reese, who’s turned a blue blood into a powerhouse and become her alma mater’s all-time winningest coach. And it shines through with this senior class, which accounts for six of Maryland’s 11 starters, four of whom made impacts all four years. All six of those senior starters this season were All-Big Ten selections, and they each made their mark in this championship run.
Caroline Steele, who finished her career with 205 goals, scored Maryland’s first two Sunday. Jen Giles scored the last two, giving the Terps enough of a margin down the stretch. Julia Braig notched her first career goal Friday and continued leading an elite defense all weekend. Taylor saved seven of the first 10 shots she faced and finished the game 10-of-20, capping her best season with another stellar outing. And while graduate transfer Erica Evans was held scoreless in her last game, her 59 goals led the Terps for the year.
The 2019 group of four-year seniors leaves College Park with two national titles and a remarkable 88-4 overall record. Somehow, that’s only half a game better than last year’s seniors, who went 87-4 with two titles of their own. The 2017 senior class went 89-3 with three championships, while the 2016 group went 87-4 with two.
It all works together. Maryland brings in elite talent and develops prospects into superstars. The Terps control draws, and they win turnover battles, and they wear teams down with offensive efficiency. Sunday’s matchup was incredibly close statistically—Boston College actually led in shots and the teams were even in attempts on goal, with draws and turnovers a virtual wash—but Maryland made the plays when it mattered. Taylor made enough crucial stops to earn NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. On offense, it was Steele early, Giles late and the unrelated Griffins (Brindi and Grace) in between.
Five titles under Reese, including four in six years. Fifteen championships overall, more than double that of any other women’s lacrosse program. And no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Maryland will lose a lot, but this program reloads better than anyone in the sport. Brindi Griffin and Kali Hartshorn will lead the Terps’ 2020 attack, with Grace Griffin starring at midfield and Lizzie Colson anchoring the defense. The incoming recruiting class will be as loaded as any Maryland has had, and plenty of role players on this team will be ready for breakout roles. That’s how it works under Reese.
But this Memorial Day weekend isn’t about next year. It’s about a team that handled everything thrown its way all season and outlasted the rest of the country. It’s about a senior class that won’t be forgotten in College Park anytime soon. It’s about Maryland—the red, white, black and gold standard of women’s lacrosse—returning to the top of the sport once again.