Less than two minutes in, Johns Hopkins got the first points on the board in their Big Ten tournament semifinal matchup against Maryland women’s lacrosse.
But attacker Caroline Steele was quick to respond for the Terps. Just seconds later, Steele was able to sprint from behind the net to score, despite tight defense from Johns Hopkins defenders.
Less than a minute later, she cradled past her defender to drop in another low shot from point blank. Minutes later, the junior striked again. This gave her a hat trick — and Maryland a 3-1 lead less than five minutes into the matchup.
From Hopkins’s opener, the Terps went on an eight goal run and would continue strong spurts of offense in its eventual 16-11 victory over Johns Hopkins.
Steele continued to shine for Maryland, notching five goals before the end of the first half. She ended the contest with two assists as well. Steele was named last year’s tournament MVP and is on track for this year’s honor.
“She had her first three goals of the game where she was able to beat her defender one on one and scored when she shot,” coach Cathy Reese said. “That was obviously what needed to see on offense and it just kind of got everybody going, everybody fueled the fire a little bit.”
But Steele wasn’t the only star of the show for Maryland. Lizzie Colson earned a career high in draw controls with eight and midfielders Grace Griffin and Meghan Siverson also contributed four and three goals, respectively.
“Everyone was just going really hard, knowing that we…don’t just want to win and advance, we want to dominate and conquer,” Steele said.
For Johns Hopkins, it was the most goals it gave up all season. The Blue Jays struggled against Maryland’s No. 8 scoring offense, seemingly never having an answer for the Terps’ offensive onslaught. The Blue Jays racked up 45 fouls in a desperate effort to stop it, including five yellow cards.
Though it allowed a few short consecutive scores for the Blue Jays, on Maryland’s end, its defense was strong for the most part until the final minutes.
With a near insurmountable lead, Reese subbed in bench players and the Terps let five goals go by towards the end of the game The Blue Jays brought the game within five points, but it was too little too late.
Still, the Terps only allowed three turnovers in the first half, and 11 overall in the game. Megan Taylor recorded 11 saves in the win, for a 50 percent save percentage.
Maryland will face the winner of the Northwestern and Penn State matchup in the Big Ten championship on Sunday at 12 p.m.
“There’s always excitement,” Steele said. “We always say first we want to win the Big Ten regular season, which we checked off, and next is the Big Ten tournamnent so…right now we’re just focused on ourselves and what we can do to be better.”