Something No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse didn’t do in its 25-12 loss on Saturday to No. 3 Northwestern was lead at any point, but it executed its game plan to near perfection in the first half, taking a 7-6 lead with 47 seconds remaining.
A lot went right in the first 29:58 of the game, until with 1.8 seconds remaining, Northwestern attacker Erin Coykendall executed an over-the-shoulder shot that sneaked past goalie Emily Sterling, reclaiming the momentum for the Wildcats that Maryland seemingly had locked up with so little time remaining before the end of the half.
Following the intermission, Northwestern continued to pile on the goals as Maryland failed to score for just over 23 minutes as it collapsed down the stretch, losing 20-10.
“When you kind of look back on it, we saw how good we can be in 30 minutes to play,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “With this group we need to really take that and build on it as we prepare to go into play Rutgers in ten days.”
Monday’s rematch was played indoors, setting up a new backdrop for a possible bounce back from the Terps after a disastrous outing against the Wildcats on Saturday.
Both teams seemed hungry from the get-go. Midfielder Sammy Mueller provided the opening goal for Northwestern at the 27:32 mark, but Maryland’s star sophomore attacker Hannah Leubecker offered a quick response just 24 seconds later.
The Terrapin defense began to unfold a bit thereafter, as Mueller roped in two more goals to make it 3-1 early. But down on the other end, Maryland’s offense remained poised.
The beast was awoken when Leubecker scored her second goal via a high set-up by midfielder Grace Griffin — matching her output from Saturday’s matchup. Leubecker continued to be aggressive, getting to the free position line before being denied, but it was Griffin acting as the aggressor next, providing the equalizer heading into the media timeout.
With Northwestern responding out of the break to make it 4-3, Maryland began to execute on defense, forcing three turnovers in as many trips down for the Wildcats. Midfielder Hannah Warther and defender Maddie Sanchez were the catalysts, each forcing a change of possession with their hoarding defense as the halfway point approached.
Turnovers failed to translate to scoring until defender Tori Barretta picked off the clear attempt by Northwestern goalie Madison Doucette. The takeaway transitioned into Grace Griffin’s second goal of the afternoon, tying it right back up with 11:35 remaining in the half.
After forcing another turnover — this time hounding Saturday’s superstar attacker Izzy Scane — the Terps went back down the field for the score. Attacker Catie May found midfielder Shaylan Ahearn from behind the net, with Ahearn converting on a circus shot, seemingly batting the ball out of the air past Doucette for the goal.
The score gave Maryland its first lead of the weekend at 5-4, but Northwestern didn’t stay down for long. A woman-up, Coykendall tied it right back up for the Wildcats as they continued to be outshot by the driven Terrapins.
Maryland’s defense kept pressing the issue, but a costly yellow card from Warther gave the Wildcats another woman-up opportunity, one that attacker Leah Holmes capitalized on.
Leubecker answered out of the five-minute media timeout, matching Holmes’ goal with a free position goal off of the deep left side, clinching her sixth hat trick on the season.
After Sterling denied the Northwestern offense once again with her fourth save of the half, it was a free position conversion by Warther with 47 seconds left that seemed to grant Maryland the advantage halfway through.
But one should never count out the nation’s top scoring offense (minimum five games), as Coykendall’s last second goal tied the match at seven heading into the intermission.
Despite ceding two woman-up goals and letting a crushing goal with seconds on the clock get past them, the Maryland defense was the story of the half. Turnovers led to three scores for the Terrapins, helping give the offense chances to produce even with the home team corralling nine draw controls to Maryland’s five.
“Saturday we left people to play one-on-one defense against some of the best attackers in the country... Defensively, we just needed to make sure we were leaving at the right time,” Reese said. “That was a good sign for us though to be able to see how we stepped up defensively in that first half and created some opportunities for ourselves.”
Northwestern rode the momentum swing heading into the half with Scane finally converting, getting past defender Lizzie Colson for goal No. 52 for her.
The combination of patience and speed from Northwestern was killer for the Terps once again, this time with Brennan Dwyer bouncing it past Sterling low to give the Wildcats a two-goal edge.
The bleeding continued for Maryland, with Northwestern extending its run off of scores from Mueller, her fourth of the day, and attacker Lauren Gilbert, her first.
Another yellow card by the Terps proved costly yet again, with Coykendall converting once more. Not even 20 seconds later, Maryland’s ineffectiveness on the draw led to another quick Northwestern goal, putting the score at 13-7.
Maryland just couldn’t keep the Wildcats away from the crease. An 11-0 run was finally ended by courtesy of Leubecker off of a fourth assist from May, a new career-high for the senior.
Leubecker’s goal held some program significance, however, marking Leubecker as the program’s top goal scorer through eight career games with the drought-ending goal. But that was the lone bright spot in a disappointing finish to this one, as Northwestern finished off the Terps, sweeping the weekend series.
“I think we have it, it’s there,” Colson said. “It’s just going to be a learning experience and I think it’s just this next week of practice and everyday after that just locking in, and believing in ourselves and believing in the people around us.”
Three things to know
1. Disaster for the Terps in the second half. It was a complete 180 for Maryland in the second half. Leading 7-6 with 47 seconds left in the first half thanks to suffocating defense and patient offense, the Terps seemed to have renewed energy in the rematch. A last-second goal from Northwestern was the beginning of the end for the Terps, as the Big Ten’s top offense put its foot on the gas.
Maryland was outscored by the Wildcats 13-3 in the second half. After crowding Northwestern into committing 13 turnovers in the first 30 minutes, Maryland failed to put pressure on the opposition as they ended the game with just 18 total turnovers.
“I’m still gonna keep drilling shooting percentage, we’ve got to be better in that area, we’ve got to be better on draw controls, and I want to be better in clearing the ball,” Reese said.
2. Draw controls were killer. As well as the Terrapins forced turnovers, Maryland was absolutely outmatched on the draw. A brutal -11 margin gave the Wildcats plenty of opportunities to produce despite the pesky defense by the Terps for much of the game. It all went sideways in the second half, as Maryland continued to suffer from the draw. Constant collections by the Wildcats didn’t allow the Terrapins to get into a rhythm on defense. They were constantly pressured and Northwestern’s relentless attack proved fatal for the road warriors.
“We kind of fell back on bad habits in the second half,” Colson said. “Just making sure that we’re playing a full 60 minutes is going to be so important and we know we can do it.”
3. The defense contained Scane and Gilbert. The two leading scorers for the Wildcats ran all over Maryland in the first matchup, with Scane driving home nine and Gilbert supplying an additional six for 15 total. Monday’s defensive game plan in shutting down the two was executed well in the first half, as neither found the back of the net in the first 30 minutes. The second half was a different story, with the duo combining for seven, but Maryland let the other Wildcats beat them in this one. Northwestern’s offense proved how dangerous they are, as Maryland wasn’t able to contain the rest of the pack.