From the opening draw, it was clear that Maryland women’s lacrosse and Northwestern would be locked in a battle.
After almost a full 20 seconds of both squads jostling around the draw circle, hoping to win that crucial first draw, the Wildcats nabbed it.
The Terps showed persistence early on, giving one of the most commanding attacks a run for their money, but they were unable to outdo the performance of the nation’s leading goalscorer, Izzy Scane, who amassed nine goals. Scane’s standout day proved to me too much for Maryland, as it fell to the Big Ten leaders, 25-12.
“We knew they were going to be hard to stop,” coach Cathy Reese said. “We needed to play better team defense, and we just didn’t do that today.”
It took two minutes to find the opening goal — and once the first one fell, the floodgates opened.
Mueller was on the board first, in what was a strong outing for the midfielder. She finished with three goals.
Brindi Griffin was quick to respond, finishing a high setup from Catie May. The senior has been a steady stream of assists this season, providing six set ups.
“We did execute on the offense when we had a chance, but it’s tough with how Northwestern kind of dominated the draw,” Griffin said. “We didn’t have a ton of opportunities, but when we did, I was proud of everybody.”
Soon, though, Scane started to find some looks. She knocked in her first goal after four minutes, and then it became all Northwestern.
Lauren Gilbert, the No. 3 leading scorer in the nation, followed up quickly, rushing through the Maryland defense to slot one past Emily Sterling.
Unable to capitalize on a draw control won by Libby May, possession went back to the Wildcats and Scane worked her way around the Terps defense to get another. And by the time Gilbert ran straight past the back line and slotted home, the Wildcats led 5-1.
In response, Reese called a timeout. And it proved to be a kickstarter for the Terps, as Hannah Warther came out and rocketed a sidearm shot past Madison Doucette.
Maryland continued to a three-goal run, as May found the net twice on near-identical goals, slowly moving her way around the cage before juking and finishing — bringing Maryland within one.
But the comeback never found its legs, as Northwestern continued to find the back of the net. Scane was the ringleader, notching 7 goals in the first half, giving the home team a 13-7 advantage at the break.
The second half wasn’t any less high scoring. A trio of hat tricks defined the first 10 minutes of the period.
Warther finished hers within the first few minutes — marking her second of the season. But Gilbert had an equal response, notching her third on a free position shot.
May was able to complete her hat trick off of a counter attack, finding plenty of space on the near side of the cage, a spot she seemed to find success in all game.
The Terps struggled to keep the Wildcats contained from there, as they went on another run, this time a 4-1 spurt — bringing Northwestern to a 10 goal lead.
“One of the things we need to keep reinforcing is that we’ve got to stick to our game plan and we need to execute what we’re asking and what we’re training for all week,” Reese said. “When things started to go south, we started to deviate from what we were asking, what we wanted to do as a defensive gameplan.”
Leubecker tacked on another goal to her season total on a free position, bringing her to 30.
However, that seemed to fuel the Wildcats who went right back down to extend their lead back to 10.
And with 18 minutes remaining, a close game had become an insurmountable lead.
Maryland made a change in goal for the first time this year, bringing on Maddie McSally for Sterling following another Gilbert goal. It was the first appearance for a goalie other than Sterling in the season.
McSally didn’t fare much better, as within a minute and a half, Gilbert scored her sixth of the day.
Both squads continued to trade goals, but Northwestern had already amassed too large of a lead for the Terps to overcome.
So, though the Terps showed signs of life, they couldn’t keep up with the Big Ten’s leaders. And Northwestern made a huge statement on who is the conference’s top dog.
“We’ve got to just kind of reevaluate some things on our end and come back ready to go on Monday,” Reese said.