On April 27, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team ensured the Big Ten regular-season championship by beating Northwestern, 18-9. Ten days later, the Terps took another conference championship from the Wildcats.

After defeating No. 4-seed Johns Hopkins in the semifinal on Friday, the No. 1-seed Terps took down the No. 3-seed Wildcats, 14-6, in College Park on Sunday to claim a second straight Big Ten championship.

The Terps’ defense set the tone early. While Northwestern held the bulk of the possession in the opening five minutes, two saves by goalkeeper Megan Taylor, one with her foot and one with her stick, denied the Wildcats the first score.

Shortly after Taylor’s second save, the Terps (19-0) cleared the ball and midfielder Kali Hartshorn fed the tournament’s most valuable player, attacker Caroline Steele, for the opening goal.

On the following possession, Taylor made a point-blank stop on Northwestern (10-9) attacker Nicole Beardsley, and Maryland attacker Brindi Griffin scored just over a minute later. The Terps erupted for a 4-0 run over the first 14:32. The sophomore made 10 saves in the first half to preserve the advantage, finishing with 16.

“We played really well defensively today,” coach Cathy Reese said. “We buckled down, got organized, got on the same page with our game plan moving forward.”

Defender Nadine Hadnagy credited the team’s concept of “Maryland defense,” centered on communicating and helping one another. The Terps executed their slides, clogged passing lanes and limited Northwestern’s top scorer, Christina Esposito, who finished with just one goal on six shots.

As the Terps dominated the first half, a Northwestern assistant coach put her hand on her face and shook her head. However, the Wildcats added three goals in the final 10 minutes of the period to close the gap, entering the break down, 6-4.

“It was a little messy,” midfielder Zoe Stukenberg said. “There were some uncharacteristic drops … things weren’t flowing, our passes weren’t connecting.”

The teams traded multiple defensive stops to open the second frame, resulting in more than six minutes of scoreless lacrosse. Stukenberg broke it open, firing into the top corner and tossing her stick aside before embracing the distributor, attacker Caroline Wannen.

Stukenberg controlled the ensuing draw, and the sequence ignited a 5-0 run to put the game out of reach.

The key to breaking out after what Stukenberg labeled a “stagnant” first half offensively was incorporating players behind the goal, which took a change in scheme to exploit.

“In the second half we came out with a really good mentality,” Stukenberg said. “We did a really good job of having everyone go hard to the cage and forcing their zone to shift.”

In the matchup with Northwestern 10 days prior, Steele paced the team with a career-high six goals. She led the way again Sunday, tallying four, with three coming in the second half. Seven other Terps notched scores, with Stukenberg and Hartshorn adding three each while Wannen and midfielder Jen Giles supplied three assists apiece.

The victory keeps the Terps in a favorable position to earn a top seed and home-field advantage in the NCAA tournament. Their fate will be announced during the selection process on Sunday night.

“The one-seed is a testament to our season so far,” Reese said. “It’s the work these girls have put in — the effort they’ve put in.”