With 9:25 left in the first half, senior Kali Hartshorn lined up for a free-position chance off to the right.
Rather than dodging in or pulling it out, Hartshorn stepped in and ripped a shot past the head of Navy goalie Abbi Young — one of her three goals — to give the Terps a nine-goal lead and seemingly put an early stamp on the contest.
No. 15 Maryland women’s lacrosse rode a strong, diverse offensive effort en route to a 16-7 victory over Navy Wednesday. It’s the Terps’ first win since the season-opener against George Mason after dropping three consecutive contests.
“We see moments of us playing really well this season and then moments of struggle,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “We had a really good first half. Second half, we just got a little sloppy and I think there’s a lot of emotion out there, a lot of just ups and downs and I felt like we didn’t execute very well.”
The Midshipmen managed to take the opening draw and found the back of the net just 36 seconds into the game as senior Natalie Irwin put one past sophomore goalie Maddie McSally.
The Terps were able to answer with a run though, scoring five goals in 6:23. Hannah Warther opened the scoring, while Shaylan Ahearn, Libby May and Caite May each added to the diverse scoring attack.
Hartshorn took a ball from behind the net and sent it in front to a cutting Brindi Griffin, who essentially batted the ball into the back of the net for the 5-1 advantage with 20:21 remaining in the first half.
“All week Cathy really put an emphasis on us coming out, not being caught on our heels —right when we come out, first whistle — attacking from the start,” senior Brindi Griffin said. “I think that made a huge difference tonight.”
Maryland used that quick spurt to keep rolling, as Hartshorn scored one for herself off an assist and Griffin became the first multi-goal scorer of the evening with an individual effort at the 15:29 mark.
Warther was able to put in two more goals and earn herself a first half hat trick just before Hartshorn ripped in a free-position strike to extend the Maryland run to 10 goals.
Libby May earned a free-position chance of her own and waltzed her way to the cage to lay in the Terp’s 11th goal in a row — earning a running clock with 8:46 left in the first half.
Neither team broke through to end the first half, but Navy was able to strike first and pause the clock after a free-position goal made it 11-2 with 27:53 left.
Hartshorn was able to answer less than a minute later after her hat trick goal gave the Terps a 12-2 advantage.
Things became tense and physical, as May was sent to sit on a yellow card for a dangerous shot and Darby Welsh checked a Midshipman in transition. A false start on Navy gave Maryland possession with a new shot clock, and Cathy Reese took a timeout to settle the commotion with 21:43 remaining in the game.
After Navy put home a free-position chance, Maryland answered fast with an ankle-snatching goal from Kate Sites that put them up 13-3. But the Midshipmen answered again to keep the back and forth affair going.
A sneaky dodge from Ellie Lecker was found by Kelly Larkin and resulted in a goal to put Navy down eight goals — the first time it wasn’t susceptible to the running clock since the middle of the first half.
Navy continued to put together a run of its own, going on a 2-1 stretch to shrink the Maryland lead to seven goal with 7:45 remaining in the game.
Just 51 seconds later, Darby Welsh cut in front of the net, was found found by Hartshorn and slotted in her second goal of the season to answer for the Terps.
Maryland was unable to score on its ensuing possessions, but its early lead had given the team plenty of room to breathe.
And after a key defensive stop, Brooke Robbins snuck home a bouncing-shot to give the Terps a 16-7 lead with 2:20 remaining and put the final stamp on the win.
“[The win] reminds us how much fun it is playing together and playing for each other,” senior Meghan Doherty said. “We all were smiling in that locker room — super pumped. We’re ready to roll. We’re looking forward to getting back back to ourselves and starting this winning streak.”
Three things to know
1. Draw controls led straight to goals early on. Maryland was able to find its spark on the draw control early on, and each teams’ offense relied on those possessions to score. The Midshipmen won the first draw and opened the scoring, but Maryland reeled off six controls and six goals before coming up with a stop and score off of a Navy control for goal No. 7.
2. Maryland’s free-position defense was strong. The Midshipmen finished 2-of-9 at the eight-meter, with the Terps doing well to not relinquish possession after stops. Maddie McSally did well to tally saves, while defenders — in particular Meghan Doherty — did well to scoop up ground balls and not allow extra possessions to Navy.
“One of our fundamentals of our Maryland defense is limiting teams to one opportunity or possession,” Doherty said. “You got to come up with every ground ball, you can’t give them that second chance at shooting on goal or anything like that. So that’s a huge thing that we work on and focus on is limiting every possession to one opportunity and getting that ball out safely across the offensive 30.”
3. The running clock took the pressure off the Terps. After three losses to highly-ranked opponents, Maryland needed to find a way to take pressure off and did so with its offense. For the first time since the season opener at George Mason, the Terps secured the running clock after taking a 10-goal lead in the first half. Navy did well to fight the running clock in the second half — pausing it throughout — but the the early cushion was all Maryland needed.
“It was huge,” Griffin said. “I think just energy, getting the confidence back with us and coming out from the start attacking. I think that was huge. And hopefully the next game we can come out from halftime with that same mentality.”