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COLLEGE PARK – The nationally second-ranked University of Maryland women’s lacrosse team used a consistent, balanced offensive attack to defeat No. 7 Michigan, 14-3, at Capital One Stadium on April 6.
Midfielder Jen Giles showed aggression and efficiency in the attack zone all afternoon, finishing with four goals and an assist to lead the Terps to the sizable come-from-behind win.
Midfielder Erica Evans and attacker Brindi Griffin contributed with two goals apiece and midfielder Grace Griffin added two goals and an assist on four attempted shots to help UMD remain undefeated.
“Good win for us. A great day to celebrate our seniors, a good day for lacrosse in College Park. We started off a little slow, and I think we had good looks on goal, and their goalie made some fantastic saves early on, and we just needed to kind of get in our groove,” said Maryland Head Coach Cathy Reese. “So, once that happened we started to take an extra second and put the ball around their keeper.”
After an unlikely stretch of offensive struggles, the Terps scored an unanswered nine goals to gain control of the game.
“I thought today, the team was really aggressive and we figured how to spread them wide so that slides were longer, and everyone was working together, working for each other and really communicating,” said Giles, a 5-foot-8 senior. “I was really proud of how we came out and started attacking, and didn’t let that hold us back the rest of the game. And just came out positive, and played for each other.”
For a considerable portion of the first half, Maryland struggled to find its offensive stride. Michigan won the game-opening faceoff, and midfielder Maggie Kane worked her way into scoring territory, bolting the ball into the net only 33 seconds into the game. For the following 11 minutes, UMD trailed 1-0, misfiring on five shots.
After a successful clear by Maryland with about 18:30 left in the first half, Steele gained possession of the ball and sniped the ball into the net to finally put her team on the board AND tie the score, 1-1. And from there, the Terrapins’ momentum was unstoppable. Giles scored Maryland’s second goal at 16:10 and then assisted Grace Griffin for UMD’s third goal shortly after that.
Though Michigan retrieved more ground balls than Maryland early on, the Terps managed to outshoot the Wolverines, 21-12, and win the draw control battle, 7-3, in the first half to take an 8-1 lead at the break.
In the second half, UMD edged Michigan in nearly every category and capitalized on scoring opportunities to expand its lead and eventually put the game out of reach. The Wolverines were charged with 20 fouls, and the Terps scored on three-of-six free-position shots. Defensively, Maryland held the Wolverines to 22 shots.
“We settled in and played much better defense to hold a team that’s had tremendous offensive output all season to three goals,” Reese said. “We’re playing really well right now defensively.”
The Terps’ defense, led by defender Julia Braig and goalie Megan Taylor, essentially shut down Michigan’s offense after its game-opening score. The Wolverines, a team that has used its physicality and all-around talent to overcome opponents all year, entered the matchup averaging more than 14 goals a game.
“This Michigan team is very talented and strong offensively, so we just wanted to focus on the Maryland defense and just start playing our style of defense,” said Taylor, who recorded 10 saves.
“That was our big thing, just communicating as one. No one was left on an island today, and I thought that it showed in the game.”
Michigan falls to 13-1 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten Conference play.
“We started the best we probably could’ve started. I think Maryland found their groove a bit,” Michigan Head Coach Hannah Nielsen said.
“I thought we were just a little tentative on offense. I thought we came in with a game plan to go at them and attack them, and that’s what you have to do, they have a great defense…they have so many threats. I think it’s hard to prepare for Maryland because they have a lot of people that can score.”
Maryland, one of only two Division I teams left that are undefeated, will play at Northwestern on April 11 at 8 p.m. The Terps will conclude its regular season against Johns Hopkins at home on April 27 at 4:30 p.m.
Reese, the winningest coach in program history, had 10 seniors on the field to finish the game.
“We have such an amazing senior class. We are so fortunate to be together,” said Braig, a senior. “To really have them on the field at the end was such an amazing feeling because we love our whole class and our whole team, so it’s awesome to be able to end the game with everyone.”