No. 1 Maryland women’s lacrosse falls 15-14 to No. 14 Florida, first home loss since 2012
Kali Hartshorn steps into a shot during Maryland women’s lacrosse’s 15-14 loss to Florida on Feb. 15, 2020. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)
Maryland women’s lacrosse hadn’t lost at home since 2012. But then Shannon Kavanagh came to College Park.
Whether it was rocketing a goal from 15 yards out or slotting in a ball right in front of net, Maryland couldn’t keep the Florida midfielder quiet long enough. Her eight goals stifled any attempt for the No. 1 Terps to mount a comeback, and the No. 14 Gators handed the defending national champions a 15-14 loss for their first home defeat since 2012.
“I don’t like this one,” coach Cathy Reese said. “It stinks to come out on this side of it for sure. We’re so early in the season, we’re learning about ourselves and learning who we are and what we are capable of.”
Hartshorn got the Terps rolling within the first minute off of a set-up from freshman Shaylan Ahearn. However, the Gators were quick to respond, with a shot from Kavanagh — recently named to the Tewaaraton watch list — falling past goalie Maddie McSally.
“We wanted to get at her early, make sure we were sending doubles and we just didn’t, it was too late,” Reese said. “She’s a really good player. If you give her space and an opening, she’s going to score.”
Maryland struggled to put up another goal on its next possession, seeing Hartshorn miss a free position shot, and captain Brindi Griffin turning the ball over with a bad pass. But, it was freshman Libby May to find the back of the net next, converting her third free position shot of the season.
Kavanagh got her second — and, moments later, Maryland responded in kind, with Libby May getting her first goal from open play this season as she weaved through the Florida defense. Once again, the Terps couldn’t get too comfortable, as Florida’s Emerson Cabrera notched a goal.
The Terps and Gators traded goals once more: Hartshorn netted her second, Kavanagh scored a third. From there, Florida ratched up the pressure, with Cabrera and Kavanagh finding the net, the first time either team held a lead more than a single goal.
Junior Catie May stymied the Gators’ momentum with a goal of her own, but a handful of missed offensive opportunities left an opening for Brianna Harris to give Florida its two goal lead back.
The Terps struggled to get their offense rolling for a few possessions, but Hartshorn came to boost the struggling attack with a sly goal, juking a defender before slotting the ball inside the post before the goalie could respond.
Brindi Griffin added her first of the day after being held silent for most of the first half, drawing the Terps level. And it was Hannah Warther’s goal from a free position shot that gave Maryland its first lead in almost 20 minutes. However, a last minute goal from Cabrera left the game tied at the half.
“They just went really hard,” midfielder Grace Griffin said. “That’s something we kind of came out on our heels. We need to come out just confident and attacking.”
Just like last week’s game against George Mason, Emily Sterling came in at goalie for the second half. McSally left the game with four saves, conceding eight goals.
The Terps came out of the gate strong, with Ahearn scoring her first career goal. Ahearn finished with 2 goals and 2 assists. Kavanagh was back again to respond.
From there, the Gators did well to keep their distance from Maryland. Kavanagh, Harris and Hannah Mardiney scored to keep the Terps from mounting much of a comeback. Maryland spent most of the second half trailing by two goals.
It was Warther who turned the game in the Terps’ favor scoring twice in the span of 36 seconds, bringing the score to 14-14.
Sterling made a big save on a running shot from Kavanagh, giving the Terps a shot to take the game. Catie May would earn a free position shot, but it hit the post, leaving Maryland still wanting for the go ahead goal.
Florida was able to hold multiple shot attempts from the Terps, getting the ball back with under two minutes to play. Kavanagh would put the final touch on her outing with a last minute goal, putting away Maryland.
“It’s a bummer, but we have a lot to work on,” defender Meghan Doherty said. “We need to focus on what we did and correct.”