After the final whistle of Maryland women’s lacrosse’s win over Johns Hopkins on Saturday, the Terps ran to goalkeeper Megan Taylor with a little more gusto than usual.
The team formed a huddle around the shot-stopper and jumped rowdily. And with good reason.
In a hard-fought 19-12 win over the Blue Jays, the Terps dispatched their Big Ten rivals en route to a fifth consecutive Big Ten championship, holding another conference trophy high in the air.
“Today was another game to cap out our 17-0 regular season,” coach Cathy Reese said. “Just happy for them and happy that they get to celebrate and enjoy this moment.”
But Maryland had to work hard to earn the celebrations. The visitors flashed a zone defense early, which forced the Terps into two misses within the first minute.
And Johns Hopkins added to the Terps early struggles by getting on the board first. Attacker Aurora Cordingley received a pass from behind the cage and went to work. She created an inch of space and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Megan Taylor from the tightest of angles.
Maryland responded immediately, though.
Giles, Maryland’s leader in points, showed her ability to move the ball early on. Just under three minutes into the first half, the senior drove to the cage, dragging two defenders with her. Midfielder Erica Evas burst into the empty space, taking an open lane for an easy finish to tie the game at one.
“Even though [Giles] was in a faceguard today she found ways to get open,” Evans said. “She created lanes for us and we used that.”
Evans added a second less than a minute later, taking on her defender before deftly dodging two more, completing a sublime solo effort to give Maryland the lead. After attacker Caroline Steele’s finish, the Terps added two more for a 5-1 edge. Five goals in five minutes had almost put the game out of reach.
“Once we have one good stop it comes right back down the other end of the field,” attacker Kali Hartshorn said. “And we want to try to keep that momentum going,” Hartshorn said.
But Hopkins had a rebuttal. Out of a timeout, the visitors forced a series of off-target shots from the Terps and took advantage of chances at the other end. Two goals in less than a minute from attacker Miranda Ibello and Cordingley made it a two-goal game.
However, that margin was only temporary. Attacker Brindi Griffin squared up her defender and slung a sidearm snipe into the bottom corner to open the gap up to three. Giles added to the lead with 9:58 remaining in the half. Facing up her defender, she cut left and attacked a wide-open lane to the cage for a 7-4 lead.
But Maryland couldn’t quite shore things up defensively. Cordingley completed a first half hat-trick with 6:20 remaining, and Hopkins continued to threaten. The two teams exchanged goals for the last few minutes of the half, and went into the break with Maryland leading 8-5.
“We didn’t do a great job giving [Taylor] the looks we would like to,” Reese said.
Johns Hopkins started the second half with a similar aggression as they had in the first. While the Terps kept Cordingley off the board, midfielder Ellie McNulty took advantage of the extra attention paid to her teammate. The senior tucked away a feed from attacker Maggie Schneidereith to shrink the Maryland lead to two.
Her effort was the last gasp out of a Hopkins offense that could no longer keep up with the Terps. Over the five minutes that followed, Maryland scored four, opening up a 12-6 advantage with 23 minutes remaining.
“We moved the ball a lot better in the second half,” Reese said. “You could see us play with a lot more confidence.”
Attacker Kali Hartshorn started the outburst from a free-position look. After being fouled hard, the junior stepped up and took one stride, rocketing the ball into the back of the net. Griffin, Giles, and Evans followed with goals to further extend distance themselves.
Hopkins pulled another one back with 18 minutes remaining, but Maryland was able to maintain its lead for the rest of the contest.
And they added some more on the offensive end. Hartshorn continued her strong second half, serving as the beneficiary of a tired Hopkins defense. She noticed three further goals, and totaled four in a dominant second half outburst. Steele also contributed, adding two goals and two assists to complete a five point game.
“We realized if we moved the ball quickly we were gonna get some good looks,” Hartshorn said.
Eleven second-half goals carried the Terps past a physical and aggressive Johns Hopkins team. Although the win wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline might suggest, Maryland moved the ball with aplomb and limited the visitors to few clear looks.
And their celebrations didn’t last long. While a fifth consecutive Big Ten regular season championship is no small achievement, this team has bigger goals.
“Coming out with the regular season is awesome, but we still have a lot going forward,” Evans said. “We still have Big Tens and obviously a national championship in mind as well.”