With about 23 minutes remaining in the first half, No. 15 Maryland women’s lacrosse sophomore midfielder Darby Welsh had an opportune offensive drive squandered by Hofstra junior defender Shannon Boyle, leading to a breakaway for Hofstra’s leading goal scorer, senior midfielder Alyssa Parrella.
Parrella and the Pride were on the run, with only goalkeeper Maddie McSally in the way from Hofstra breaking the 2-2 tie early in the first half.
McSally stepped up to the plate and stopped Parrella’s screecher, one of the sophomore’s career-high 16 saves on the afternoon, pushing her three-game total to 40 since taking over as the full-time starter for the Terps on Feb. 29.
The sophomore has been a revelation in goal for head coach Cathy Reese and the Terps, helping spark the offense with terrific defense in net in the team’s 16-11 win over the Pride Saturday.
“Coming off of the losses we were really just trying to push ourselves to be better and push ourselves to be confident,” McSally said.
The main beneficiary of Maryland’s solid defensive effort was senior attacker Brindi Griffin, who has found her footing the past few games after a relatively quiet three-game stretch.
After McSally’s crucial save and with 24:42 remaining in the first half, Griffin supplied one of her many pivotal goals for the Terps, tying the game with a slick wrist shot that found the bottom right corner of the cage. Nearly 10 minutes later she scored again, giving her team a 3-2 lead off an assist from junior captain Grace Griffin.
Grace Griffin dumped off the ball to a cutting Brindi Griffin down the left-middle side of the crease. From there, the senior attacker rifled a shot past the defender and into the back of the net to give the Terps a lead they didn’t look back from.
These goals were apart of an eight-goal run for the Terps and personal four-goal individual run for Brindi Griffin.
“The first couple of games we got caught back on our heels and kind of dug ourselves into a hole,” Brindi Griffin said. “Coming out and getting those first couple of goals has been huge for us.”
Brindi Griffin landed her second-straight hat trick on a nifty goal with 12:09 remaining in the first half, wrapping around the back of the net and keeping it low to the ground as she found the back of the net. The senior then proceeded to take an isolation on the right side near the crease and bounce in a shot to push the Maryland lead to three.
The midfielder duo of freshman Kate Sites and junior Hannah Warther added to the first half onslaught, recording two goals apiece to take a 9-3 lead into halftime.
Hofstra responded well out of the break, scoring 1:38 into the second half off a free position shot from freshman midfielder Taylor Mennella.
Mennella and junior attacker Katie Whelan continued to provide a mini-spark for the away team, scoring twice following Brindi Griffin’s fifth goal — one short of her career high — of the afternoon to cut the lead to four.
In response, the Terps began to slow the pace down, leading to a goal right in the grill of sophomore goalkeeper Jess Smith from Welsh — assisted by Catie May — to end their team’s 11-minute scoreless drought.
May directed a pass from behind the net that found her sister Libby cutting down the middle with 9:47 remaining to extend the Terps lead to six.
About a minute later, May roped in a free position goal to give her her first-career hat trick.
May then continued her second half onslaught with her fourth goal of the afternoon off an assist from senior attacker Kali Hartshorn — who recorded her 200th career point earlier in the game with an assist to Sites — to put the game out of reach for Hofstra and move the Terps back up to .500 with their second consecutive victory at home.
Three things to know
1. The confidence on offense continues to grow. A rough stretch in February created some concerns about how the offense could handle top-tier talent. Confidence remained a point of emphasis that the offense needed to implement into their game plan, and after a solid outing against Navy on Mar. 4, the Terps looked comfortable against Hofstra. The Terps worked the ball around the crease and cut with a purpose on Saturday. They seemed more goal-oriented than passive in this one, something Reese wanted to fix heading into the double week.
“We’re continuing to grow and learn each other’s tendencies and learn what we like and what we’re good at,” Reese said. “Making defenders have to defend us rather than allowing them to defend us ... I think there’s a difference with that.”
2. Hofstra showed some fight. The Pride didn’t back down on the road against the highly-touted Maryland Terps. Parrella and company came out firing in the first few minutes, but McSally stifled half of the 18 shots from the Pride in the first half to quiet the feisty, upset-minded team.
Out of the halftime break however, Hofstra began to convert. A triplet of Libby May goals late in the half seemed to effectively put the Pride’s comeback efforts to rest, but Hofstra still flashed some bite. The senior duo of Parrella and midfielder Alexa Mattera scored 30 seconds apart to cut the Terps lead to five with just under six minutes remaining. It was too little too late for Hofstra, but the underdogs made the game interesting.
3. Brindi Griffin is heating up. Griffin came into the season as the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, but had some trouble gaining her footing in the early going of the season. A hat trick in the season opener against George Mason preceded a lowly four-goal output in three games. Maryland’s offense as a whole struggled during the three-game stretch, but Griffin’s shot on goal percentage dipped significantly after the victory in Fairfax, Virginia.
Against Hofstra, Griffin was unstoppable in the first half. The senior kickstarted an eight-goal run with four consecutive goals of her own to launch the Terps ahead. Brindi Griffin is heating up and it’s only a matter of time before the Terps continue to strike.
“Sometimes we’re focusing so much on keeping the ball moving quick that then maybe you forget that you can challenge yourself and look for openings,” Reese said. “[Her] teammates were doing a good job occupying their defense, then she had to chance to go.”