BALTIMORE — No. 1-ranked Maryland women’s lacrosse will face off against No. 5 Northwestern in the 2019 Big Ten tournament championship on Sunday at Homewood Field.
The Terrapins cruised past Penn State for a 15-8 victory on Friday, while Northwestern outlasted No. 7-ranked Michigan in the second semifinal matchup. Both Maryland and Northwestern displayed high-powered offenses early, and those early goals allowed each team to create separation and win.
Erica Evans led the way with five goals for Maryland, while Lizzie Colson added a huge hustle play for her second career goal to ignite the Terrapins. Meghan Siverson sat out this game as a precaution, and Catie May stepped right into her place by adding two goals and two assists against Penn State.
Maryland missed the first Big Ten tournament championship in 2015, but has won each of the last three, including back-to-back finals wins against Northwestern in 2016 and 2017, and will look for its fourth on Sunday.
Opening draw between the Terrapins and Wildcats is set for noon ET and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
What happened last time
Maryland and Northwestern played one of the wildest games in the recent history of women’s lacrosse, which ended as a 17-13 Maryland victory.
The Terrapins traveled to Evanston, Illinois, to face the Wildcats, and despite reports of foul weather approaching, both teams tried to play outside and stick things out. The wind and rain eventually ramped up and lightning approached sending the game to a delay while deadlocked at 12-12.
Rather than sitting out the storm, both teams agreed to move the game inside to Northwestern’s Ryan Fieldhouse in order to save time. Once inside, Maryland ran away with the game by rattling off three goals to take a 15-12 lead and was able to hold on for the victory.
What’s happened since
For Maryland, the close game against Northwestern ended a streak of eight games holding opponents under 10 goals. Though they came out on top against the Wildcats, the Terrapins struggled to dominate at the end of the regular season. The tides seem to have changed for Maryland after its performance against Penn State in the conference semifinal, but Sunday will be the ultimate test.
Northwestern, on the other hand, was able to use the loss against Maryland as a building block and has not lost since. The Wildcats have beaten Michigan twice and traveled to South Bend, Indiana, to take down then No. 4-ranked Notre Dame. The Wildcats displayed a powerful offensive effort their second time around against Michigan on Friday, and revenge will certainly be on the team’s mind Sunday.
Three things to watch
1. The top NCAA Tournament seed is there for the taking. Though they claimed the No. 1 spot in the media and coaches poll, a win on Sunday is the only way to guarantee the top overall seed on Selection Sunday. Boston College and North Carolina are right on the Terrapins’ heels, so Maryland wants to remove any room for debate.
2. Look for Jen Giles to bounce back on Sunday. The Big Ten semifinal on Friday marked the first time in 364 days that Giles had been held without a goal, as Penn State limited her production to just one assist. Last season, Johns Hopkins held her scoreless in the conference semifinals, but Giles went on to average three goals per game for the rest of Maryland’s 2018 postseason run.
3. Shutting down Selena Lasota will be key. The senior attacker has had an amazing 2019 season, including a nine-goal performance against Rutgers in the middle of March. In her last five games, Lasota has scored 26 goals, including six against the Terrapins in the first matchup. Look for the Terrapin defense to try and neutralize her in order to slow down the high-paced Wildcat offense.