When Maryland women’s lacrosse needed her most, Lizzie Colson stepped up. Up 8-7 with one minute left, the Terps were defending a surging Johns Hopkins attack.

But as Eliza Bowman attempted a pass, Colson read the play and picked it off. She ran past the Blue Jays and into the safety of the offensive zone, running down the clock.

Her clutch play sent Maryland to an 8-7 victory over Johns Hopkins, advancing coach Cathy Reese’s squad to the Big Ten tournament championship against Northwestern.

“All I was thinking about in that moment was, you have to get this ball because if you don’t, she’s gonna run in and she’s gonna score,” Colson said. “Once I got that ball, I was just running full steam ahead and making sure I got into my attacking end safely and securely.”

The Terps got on the board early. Nearly four minutes in, Catie May found Brindi Griffin in front of the net on a high pass. With one second remaining on the shot clock, her low strike found the back of the net. It was Griffin’s 27th goal of the season.

Hannah Warther soon got in on the action. She maneuvered around the Blue Jays’ defense to push Maryland’s lead to 2-0.

Just two minutes later, Grace Griffin brought her defender up, causing her to hesitate. She took advantage, firing a shot into the back of the net to extend the lead to 3-0. The Terps were in control.

[Maryland women’s lacrosse books Big Ten semifinal appearance, downs Michigan, 16-13]

On the other end, Maryland’s defense kept Johns Hopkins frustrated throughout the first half. The Terps turned in one of their best defensive performances of the season, behind the play of goalkeeper Emily Sterling.

Her five saves in the first half kept the Blue Jays off the board in the opening 30 minutes. It was Maryland’s first time shutting out an opponent in a half since March 2019 against Ohio State.

“That first half for us defensively was probably the best we’ve had this season,” Reese said.

And the Terps turned defense into offense. After forcing a turnover, Libby May found Brindi Griffin wide open in front of the net in transition. She didn’t miss, giving Maryland a 4-0 lead.

But the Terps turned sloppy in the beginning of the second half. Johns Hopkins ended a 34-minute scoring drought when Abbey Hurlbrink beat Sterling weakside to cut the lead to 4-1.

Just over a minute later, Mackenzie Heldberg scored two goals in 22 seconds for the Blue Jays. Suddenly, Maryland’s lead was just one goal.

But the Terps quickly responded. Grace Griffin rifled a shot past Kathleen Garvey for her 100th career goal.

“I’m so proud, and I’m so proud of my teammates for getting me here,” Griffin said. “I obviously couldn’t have done it without them.”

On the ensuing possession, Hannah Leubecker drove in, ran past her defender on the left side and fired a shot into the left side of the cage for her team-leading 51st goal of the season.

[Four Maryland players named to All-Big Ten women’s lacrosse team]

After Maryland went up 6-3, both defenses held tight, and neither side scored for the next 11 minutes, with both defenses holding tight. Grace Griffin broke the stalemate with just over 13 minutes remaining, completing her hat trick to extend the Terps’ edge, 7-3.

But Johns Hopkins didn’t go away and made things interesting once again. Blue Jays’ leading scorer Aurora Cordingley went behind the net, turned around her defender and put it home to make it 7-4.

Bowman then converted a free position, and Hurlbrink’s second goal of the game brought Johns Hopkins within one with under eight minutes to play.

Maryland briefly recovered a multi-goal lead thanks to great passing in the offensive zone by both Brindi and Grace Griffin. The latter ultimately found Libby May in the middle, who gave the Terps a bit of breathing room at 8-6.

“Offensively, we did just enough to win the game,” Reese said.

Cordingley cut into the lead again just over one minute later, setting up a tense finish just like in the teams’ first two matchups this season.

But in the end, Maryland’s defense came up strong. Colson’s forced turnover let the Terps run out the clock and move just one win shy of Big Ten glory.

“We’re just really excited to get our shot at Northwestern [again],” Colson said. “I think we’re a completely different team than we were before.”