Entering halftime in its second-round NCAA tournament matchup against Denver, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team had just a 4-2 lead.
The Terps scored the first four goals of the game, but they couldn’t find the net for the last 20 minutes of the first half.
Maryland started out the second half strong, though, and this time the run would stick en route to a 15-4 victory.
The win marked the Terps’ 12th straight victory in their opening NCAA tournament game.
The game was a tight defensive matchup throughout the first half, with goalkeeper Megan Taylor leading the way for No. 1-seed Maryland. Taylor finished with 10 saves and a .714 save percentage. Defender Lizzie Colson also had a strong performance, recording one caused turnover, three ground balls and four draw controls.
“You play a team like Maryland,” Denver coach Liza Kelly said, “sometimes it’s a matter of when they figure out what you’re doing against them.”
Maryland will face Navy, which upset Loyola on Sunday, in College Park next weekend in the NCAA quarterfinals.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead within the first 10 minutes, Maryland missed its final 11 shots of the first period, with Denver goalkeeper Carson Gregg saving six of those attempts. The Pioneers tacked on two scores in the final eight minutes of the period — including a goal on a free-position shot with 25 seconds to go — to narrow the Terps’ advantage to two.
Maryland came out of the locker room firing, with attacker Megan Whittle finding the net twice to expand the edge to 6-2. Denver responded with two goals of its own, but the Terps embarked on a 9-0 run over the final 20 minutes.
“We really gave it to them [in] the first half,” Kelly said. “By the second half, they got a couple quick ones and figured out kind of where to beat the zone and really started taking advantage.”
On the offensive end, Whittle starred for the Terps, as she has all season. The senior tallied six goals, two assists, three draw controls and two ground balls in the win. She’s now tallied 294 career goals, passing Gail Cummings for second place in NCAA all-time scoring history.
“The individual accolades are amazing and they’re great, but I’m here to compete for a National Championship,” Whittle said. “It’s cool that it’s done, but it’s cooler that we’re moving on to the next round and that we have another game to look forward to.”
Attacker Caroline Steele and midfielder Jen Giles also had productive days, notching four and three goals, respectively. They accounted for six of the nine scores in the Terps’ final run.
The Pioneers missed their final five shots of the game, and their 4 goals were the fewest allowed by the Terps all season.
“We were all kind of just relaxed and ready to have fun out there,” defender Lizzie Colson said. “We got the energy going when we would get a turnover and run the ball down and just have each other’s backs, I think that was the difference.”