FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – After time expired, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team charged the field to greet goalkeeper Megan Taylor in celebration. While some had been in the situation before, many had not.
All of them showed jubilation after the program with the most national championships in NCAA women’s lacrosse history added another to its trophy cabinet.
The Terps outlasted Boston College, 16-13, to cap an undefeated campaign and win its 14th national title at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Sunday.
Coach Cathy Reese won four championships as a player in the 1990s and has captured four titles at the helm of the program. Despite her experience in those situations, she was overcome with emotion following her latest triumph.
“We just won and I’m crying,” Reese joked, wiping her eyes. “Jesus.”
Maryland’s flawless season was the program’s first since finishing a streak of seven consecutive titles in 2001. The senior class finished with a record of 89-3, winning the same amount of national championships as games they lost.
On Sunday, the Terps began in control.
Midfielder Kali Hartshorn won the opening draw before scoring an off-balanced shot just 10 seconds into the contest.
That set off a 5-2 run out of the gate, which included three straight goals from attacker Caroline Steele. On the third tally, midfielder Lizzie Colson jetted up the field and found attacker Caroline Wannen, who in one swift motion caught and dished to Steele to set up the score.
But that was the end of the bright start.
Boston College managed a 3-0 run of its own while the Terps stalled on offense. Sloppy passing contributed to seven first-half turnovers, and airtight defending from the Eagles rendered the Terps silent.
“Our shots were not falling at all,” Hartshorn said. “We didn’t capitalize on situations when we could have.”
Maryland entered the break level with the Eagles, marking just the third time all season the Terps didn’t lead at halftime.
However, their scoring drought didn’t extend far into the second period.
Just 19 seconds after the restart, attacker Megan Whittle caught a pass with her back to goal, spun around and scored, putting the Terps back on track.
Her finish sparked a 5-0 run in which Steele scored twice and midfielder Jen Giles added two more.
“We came out in the second half on fire,” Reese said.
After the Eagles closed the gap to 10-8 with under 19 minutes to go, a save from Taylor helped Maryland pull away.
She stopped a shot from Boston College midfielder Kaileen Hart, and defender Lizzie Colson picked up the loose ball and burned the Eagles again in transition. She found Whittle, who sprinted by a defender and fired a rocket into the top corner.
After the finish, Whittle tossed her stick high into the air and jumped up and down. Though Boston College continued to fight back late, the Terps never trailed in the game, thanks in part to that conversion.
In the victory, Steele tied the record for most goals in a championship game with six. Midfielder Zoe Stukenberg called her “unbelievable,” saying the sophomore stepped up when nobody else was performing.
Despite leading the team’s scoring effort on Sunday, though, Steele was quick to attribute the title game success to her teammates—a recurring theme among the family-oriented squad.
“It’s really an unbelievable feeling,” Steele said. “We worked so hard this season and finally put it all together. Today was a team effort as it always is.”
Steele looked around, unsure if she should finish her thought.
“Yeah, I mean, it always is.”