Maryland women’s lacrosse spent much of the first half against Northwestern in catch-up mode, trying to climb back from the largest deficit it faced this season. After trailing early by three, the Terps drew level with less than two minutes before halftime, and kept pace with the Wildcats in the second half. But the battle was sent to a grinding halt after a storm ripped into Evanston, Illinois, with the teams locked at 12.
The game was moved indoors following a lightning delay, and Maryland used the respite well, closing out the contest on a 5-1 run to earn a crucial 17-13 Big Ten victory Thursday.
Here are three things to know about the Maryland win.
Big Ten glory, again
The Terps’ win ensured they will at least have a share of the Big Ten regular season title for the fifth year in a row.
The conference has grown steadily more competitive since Maryland joined in 2014, and this season, the Wildcats emerged as the biggest threat to the Terps’ conference throne. After opening Big Ten play 3-0 and averaging the third most points per game in the NCAA, Northwestern was equipped with the tools necessary to dispatch Maryland.
However, the Terps were too much for their hosts, grinding out a vital road win to maintain their perfect record. They now set their sights on a fourth straight Big Ten tournament title.
The Terps recovered from a slow start
Maryland’s offense has been built on fast starts, which has helped it get past numerous top-10 foes. But on Thursday, the Terps were in uncharted territory against the No. 5 Wildcats.
While Northwestern got off to shooting a passable 44 percent at the start, Maryland was ice cold. It took the Terps an uncharacteristic seven minutes to get on the board.
A 3-0 deficit could have been larger had it not been for the heroics of goalkeeper Megan Taylor. Her four first-half saves weren’t the highest tally of the season, but were crucial in keeping Maryland within striking distance.
The Terps tied the game by half time, and despite an ugly 10-for-24 second half, they secured the win.
Inefficient, but effective
For most of the season, the Terps have been efficient on offense. But even when they haven’t, they’ve overcome it. The performance against Northwestern was no different. Maryland shot a season-low 38.6 percent, and a season-worst 68 percent of Maryland’s attempts were on target.
Attacker Caroline Steele’s five goals on 13 shots was emblematic of the team-wide struggles. Midfielder Grace Griffin experienced similar difficulties, shooting 2-for-7.
However, after the weather delay, Maryland found its shot. Although they still missed a few, the Terps mustered an improved 42 percent in their much-needed scoring run. While it wasn’t pretty, Maryland did enough to clinch at least a share of the conference title with one Big Ten matchup remaining.