Syracuse attacker Emma Ward moved around Neve O’Ferrall, stopped on a dime and attempted to free herself from her defender.

Ward won just enough space to get a shot off on the Terps’ goal. O’Ferrall made a last-ditch effort to block the shot, but failed. All that stood between a Syracuse goal and the end of the game was Emily Sterling.

Maryland’s goalie got her stick on Ward’s effort, keeping the Orange scoreless on its first attack of the overtime period.

Hannah Leubecker scored minutes later as No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse defeated No. 5 Syracuse, 9-8, on Saturday.

Ward’s shot might have passed by Sterling’s stick and sank into the net last season. Sterling made just six saves while conceding 20 goals to Syracuse in 2023. But Sterling’s redemption in goal — and Maryland’s defensive help — gave her team an opportunity to claim a top-five victory on the road. The Terps made sure to walk away with a win.

“We were very disciplined,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said of her defense’s performance. “We helped when we needed to help, we slid when we needed to slide, we came up with loose balls. We gave Emily the shots that we know that she’s confident to save.”

[No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse beats No. 5 Syracuse in overtime battle, 9-8]

Maryland stuck to its game plan. The Terps wanted to force Syracuse to take shots that their reigning Big Ten goaltender of the year could stop. And it worked.

Sterling faced Ward for the first time less than two minutes after the Orange won the draw control in the first quarter.

Ward began behind Maryland’s goal before running to the front with her back to the net. Terps defender Brianna Lamoureux met Ward in front of the cage, but couldn’t stop the Syracuse attacker from shooting.

Ward twisted away from Lamoureux and threw a shot on target, only to be denied by Sterling.

“Our defense was very consistent today, led by Emily back there [in goal],” Reese said. “We did a really nice job of sticking with our game plan.”

Syracuse put together a four-goal run through the second and third quarters. The Orange went on similar scoring streaks in last season’s meeting, netting three goals in three separate occasions.

“Lacrosse is a game of runs. One team will go on a run, you just can’t get down,” Leubecker said. “Our defense came up with some great stops.”

[With No. 5 Syracuse looming, Maryland women’s lacrosse hopes stout defense holds strong]

Maryland’s defense didn’t allow a similar run of goals the rest of the game. The Terps gave up just three more scores after halting Syracuse’s run in the third period.

Olivia Adamson scored five minutes into the fourth quarter, marking the last time a Syracuse player beat Sterling on Saturday. Sterling kept the Orange scoreless for more than 13 minutes in the closing stages of the game. Her save on Ward in overtime was her last, bringing Sterling’s total saves to nine.

Maryland’s first win against a top-five opponent in two seasons was spearheaded by the defense and play of their 2022 All-American goalie. In the same building where she saved a lowly 30 percent of her goals last year against Syracuse, Sterling was the difference for Maryland this season.

“I think Emily and Delaney [Sweitzer] are two of the best goalies in the country,” Reese said. “That part of the game is some of the best that we’re going to see in our sport this season.”