Maryland women’s lacrosse attacker Chrissy Thomas stood unmarked behind the Rutgers goal, electing to keep the ball as multiple teammates cut away from their defenders.

The senior raced from her spot at the back of the cage. She circled inside the eight-meter arc as Scarlet Knights defender Madison Karpe delivered multiple checks. Thomas absorbed each bump and dashed past Karpe.

Thomas maneuvered around the goal, shooting and finishing past Rutgers goalie Sophia Cardello. The third quarter tally — her second in the frame — marked the fifth straight game Thomas scored multiple goals.

Thomas’ scoring outburst has come at the most opportune moment for Maryland. Her goal spree allows other attackers to exploit new free space and adds another dimension to the Terps’ goal-scoring threat.

“Chrissy has really come a long way this season,” coach Cathy Reese said. “As we’ve seen the second half of the year come in, we’ve seen her really step up.”

[Maryland women’s lacrosse suffers upset loss to Rutgers in Big Ten quarterfinals, 9-8]

Thomas’ offensive emergence occurred rapidly. She posted just four goals and 12 assists in Maryland’s first 11 games of the regular season — she didn’t net her first score until the Terps’ fifth contest against William & Mary.

Thomas recorded 12 goals and nine assists in the five-game run that carried into the postseason on Saturday. Her effectiveness anywhere in the offensive zone, specifically her passing presence, has created more of an emphasis on Thomas and less on attacker Eloise Clevenger.

Clevenger leads the team with 49 assists. Thomas is second with 21 — no other Maryland player has reached 10 this season. Clevenger is lethal in front and behind the net. Thomas is as well.

The Terps trailed Rutgers through the majority of the first three quarters. Thomas tied the game with her second score in the third period. She then delivered the perfect pass to give Maryland its first lead of the game in the final frame.

Thomas stood behind the cage with the ball, the same spot usually occupied by Clevenger. Thomas roamed in the open space and hit a cutting Libby May in stride. May took Thomas’ feed and shot past Cardello.

Thomas ended the contest with a team-high three assists.

“She can find openings and she’s giving us a lefty coming around the left side,” Reese said. “Chrissy is super talented and a great finisher, and when she’s got the ball in her stick, she can make things happen.”

[Maryland women’s lacrosse hopes its fourth quarter woes are a problem of the past]

Thomas has also given Maryland another weapon in its goal scoring. She’s left-handed, allowing her to play to the left of the goal — an option not many others with significant playing time have.

The Terps chipped away their deficit in the third quarter against the Scarlet Knights. Thomas was instrumental in the effort.

Clevenger caught a pass from attacker Hannah Leubecker near the goal line. Two players rushed Clevenger, leaving Thomas free on the left-hand post. Thomas received Clevenger’s dish and shot past Cardello for her first of two scores. Both of her goals started from the left side of the field.

Despite Thomas’ game-high five points, Maryland’s attack turned out its worst shooting performance of the season on Saturday. The Terps shot at a poor 26 percent in the 9-8 loss.

Maryland awaits its next opponent in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Terps must shoot better to avoid a season-ending loss as they enter the final month of their campaign — Thomas’ hot streak will be vital.