Megan Whittle couldn’t help but laugh at herself.
The Maryland women’s lacrosse team’s leading scorer put her face in her palm and smiled after she shot wide on an empty net. Under normal circumstances it might not have been a laughing matter.
However, with the Terps leading No. 7 Princeton 6-0 after just eight minutes on Wednesday night, the attacker saw the funny side of the gaffe.
“Kali [Hartshorn] threw a perfect pass to me and I was like, ‘Oh! Shanked it!'” Whittle said. “It happens but you’ve got to keep shooting. I kept shooting. They’ll go in eventually.”
Whittle and No. 1 Maryland jumped out to a six-goal lead for the second straight game and, behind a five-goal outburst from the junior, rode the early cushion to an 18-12 victory over the Tigers.
The Terps took advantage of Princeton’s turnovers to build their lead, as the Tigers struggled to break down Maryland’s defense. The visitors turned the ball over on their first four possessions, and the Terps used those giveaways to break away in transition.
At first, Whittle capitalized on the space given to her when the Terps were in possession. However, the Tigers began to double-team her later in the first half.
But with defenders draped all over her, Whittle continued to make an impact as she used her speed to break traps and continuously finish past goalkeeper Ellie DeGarmo.
“Once they started doubling off the draw and in transition, my coaches always tell me just to run,” Whittle said. “I just kept running until someone would drop off.”
DeGarmo entered the game with the nation’s highest save percentage (59.5) but was forced to collect the ball from her own net more than she has all season, despite stopping 15 of Maryland’s 33 shots on goal.
Coach Cathy Reese was impressed with some of DeGarmo’s saves, but also lamented the Terps’ missed opportunities in front of goal. Regardless, the squad did enough to overcome DeGarmo.
Coming off a six-goal performance at Rutgers on Saturday, Hartshorn notched five goals and added an assist. Midfielder Jen Giles chipped in four goals, midfielder Zoe Stukenberg scored a hat trick and attacker Caroline Steele added another score.
The Terps (14-0) recorded at least 16 goals for the sixth straight contest.
“We go out and we play Maryland lacrosse and that works for us every game,” Hartshorn said. “We go out and we try and stay consistent. As long as we stay consistent, we score, and that’s what wins us games.”
Goalkeeper Megan Taylor made 11 saves in the contest. Most of them were straightforward, as Maryland defenders forced Princeton attackers into shots from difficult angles.
Though Taylor displayed frustration after allowing a string of late goals, she still stopped nearly as many shots as she conceded goals.
With the victory over Princeton, Maryland has won 60 straight games at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex, dating back to March 2012. The Terps will play their final regular season home game on Saturday against Ohio State.
“This is our home, and this is a great stadium, a great facility for lacrosse,” Reese said. “It’s nice to have so many fans close to the field and you can really feed off their energy and the excitement, and it was around a game tonight where we hosted a top-10 opponent.”