COLLEGE PARK — Fueled largely by an 8-0 scoring run to close out the first half, the University of Maryland women’s lacrosse team was able to rally back from an early 4-0 deficit to sail to a 17-8 win over Stony Brook (N.Y.) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Capital One Field on May 12.
Midfielder Erica Evans scored five goals and had two assists, attacker Caroline Steele recorded three goals and three assists, and midfielder Grace Griffin added three goals and an assist to help the Terrapins bounce back from a May 5 loss to Northwestern, 16-11, in the Big Ten conference championship.
The No. 1-seeded Terps brought a staunch defensive effort in the latter end of the first half that continued through the second half, and were able to establish free-position shots to extend their lead in the second half en route to the big win.
Maryland Head Coach Cathy Reese called a timeout after the Terps went down 3-0 at the 25:27 mark in the first half to make some adjustments and stop Stony Brook’s scoring run. She was proud of the way her team was able to respond.
“We had to make some changes on the draw,” Reese said in the post-game press conference.
“When we had the ball on offense, I thought we did a really nice job of being patient, picking the right shots, and then finishing those opportunities. So, huge credit to our defense for figuring things out, settling in, and really limiting them, especially after that run.”
In a span of less than three minutes early in the first half, the Seawolves (16-5) connected on four goals, finding themselves in complete control with a 4-0 lead on the top-ranked team in the country. In addition, they won first five faceoffs of the afternoon.
Sabrina Tabasso and Sara Moeller and Taryn Ohlmiller scored goals before Reese was forced to call a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Siobhan Rafferty added another Stony Brook goal off a pass from Ally Kennedy with 24:45 remaining.
After Stony Brook committed a turnover and a foul, UMD’s offensive onslaught commenced, beginning with a free-position goals by Caroline Steele and Evans to make the score 4-2 with about 22 minutes left in the first. Over the next five minutes, both teams traded goals as the Terps found themselves down, 6-3, with 18:27 left.
From that point, Maryland tacked on eight unanswered goals to close the half. Many of their scoring plays occurred on quick passes to cutters through the eight-meter arc.
“This week we’ve been working on next-play mentality and just learning from our mistakes and putting it behind us,” Evans said. After the timeout, the Terps picked up their energy and communicated more, she said.
“They have a great zone defense so all week we’ve been working on filling those lanes and talking to each other… so overall, just communication and working together.”
Though UMD was edged 14-13 in faceoffs, it still outshot SBU 26-23. Terps goalie Megan Taylor tallied seven saves, while Stony Brook goalie Anna Tesoriero had five on the afternoon.
“We made some changes and mentally stuck to the game plan, and offensively, our players did what they needed to do,” Reese continued.
They created movement, everything that we had talked about all week – filled spaces the right way, shot really well to come away with the great victory.”
In the second half, UMD held SBU to two goals on nine shots, while adding another six scores to notch the nine-goal win. Jen Giles chipped in with three goals and Kali Hartshorn recorded two goals and an assist to help the Terps improve to 19-1 overall.
The Seawolves was charged with 19 fouls and six yellow card penalties, some of which led to man-up scoring opportunities for the Terps.
“First of all congratulations to Maryland. They are the golden standard of our sport,” SBU Head Coach Joe Spallina said. “They’re an incredible team, and you’re not going to beat an incredible team once you have a complete effort across the board – draws, offense, defense.”
Spallina, who’s in his eighth year as head coach, said he liked the way his team began the afternoon despite the late-game struggles. He acknowledged Maryland’s depth and its ability to establish free-position shots.
“Disappointing game today, but we got off to a great start. We like the way we came out, especially offensively. I thought we came out, we had a good plan. Offensively, we got the ball into good places,” Spallina said. “It’s just a matter of us being able to make some more stops.”
Moeller led the way for the Seawolves with two goals and an assist.
Ally Kennedy, one of Stony Brook’s standouts, had to sit for about the last 28 minutes in the second half after her second yellow card. The junior midfielder played a critical role in the Seawolves 12-game winning streak entering the game.
“I’m just really proud of us,” Kennedy said as tears began to fill her eyes.
“It just breaks my heart that I wasn’t able to finish out the game with the seniors that I spent three years with.”
The Terps will host No. 17 University of Denver on May 18 in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.