The last time Maryland women’s lacrosse midfielder Erica Evans scored six goals in an NCAA game, it was May 2017. And it wasn’t in a Terps jersey. A junior then, she notched six against Fairfield in Canisius’ conference-clinching victory in front of a crowd of 428 people.
On Saturday, the stage was a bit bigger.
When she created a yard of space and lashed one top shelf for her sixth — this time for Maryland against Johns Hopkins — 1,968 people watched from the sun-soaked bleachers of Capital One Field. She was playing for an undefeated squad with dreams of another national championship.
The Terps dispatched their in-state rivals, 19-12, clinching the Big Ten regular-season championship outright, due in part to five hat tricks. But it was Evans who stood out with a dominant performance that was instrumental in completing Maryland’s perfect regular season.
“Erica came through huge today,” coach Cathy Reese said.
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The Peterborough, Ontario, native poured on six goals and an assist in her best outing yet since becoming a Terp. Evans has caught fire in her past three games, contributing 14 goals on 67 percent shooting. More importantly, though, the graduate transfer is heating up at the perfect time — as Maryland heads into the postseason.
Evans had shown glimpses of the All-American and Tewaaraton-nominated player the Terps thought they were getting when she transferred prior to the season. But Saturday was her first complete performance for Maryland.
“She’s been such a cool player and addition to our team, “ Reese said.
Evans’ confidence was apparent right out of the gate. Just under three minutes into the first half, midfielder Jen Giles fed Evans just outside the crease. She took two strong steps before firing a shot across her body and into the back of the net to open scoring.
She added a second goal two minutes later, this time on a flashy solo effort using her pace to squeeze between two defenders and ripple the back of the cage.
“My confidence is building, getting used to everybody around me,” Evans said. “I think everybody else is also getting used to me as well.”
Her third strike was even more convincing. With four minutes remaining in the half, Evans caught a pass from attacker Brindi Griffin and, in one smooth motion, found the bottom corner. By halftime, she had three goals on three shots, and the Terps led 8-5.
“Erica’s been a great addition,” attacker Kali Hartshorn said. “She goes to goal hard, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
[Read more: Maryland women’s lacrosse beats Johns Hopkins 19-12 for 5th straight Big Ten title]
After Johns Hopkins started to lose a foothold in the game, and the Maryland offense took off, Evans settled further into a groove. Her fourth was a calmly-placed free position look for her third-straight game with at least four goals. The finish put the Terps up 12-6, and the Blue Jays never mustered much of a response.
Evans finished the day without missing a single shot. Her strong offensive play was important against Georgetown and Northwestern in two hard-fought victories. Against Johns Hopkins, it was imperative.
While the graduate transfer had some growing pains as a Terp, she seems to be coming into her own.
“As the season goes on, you get a lot more comfortable, know your role and things like that,” Evans said.
So, despite the change in scenery and the almost two years that separated Evans’ six-goal games, one thing hadn’t changed: The midfielder carried her team to a pivotal win.
“She dodged hard, she shot well,” Reese said. “She’s a stud.”