On a day when the Maryland women’s lacrosse program honored nine seniors in a pre-game ceremony, Rutgers refused to play the role of sacrificial lamb.
The No. 11 Terps wasted a five-goal advantage in the first half and could only watch as a pesky Scarlet Knights squad tied the score at 12-12 with a little more than six minutes left in regulation. But Maryland got two goals in the final four minutes to escape with a 14-12 victory Thursday evening at the Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex, ending a two-game losing streak.
Sophomore attacker Libby May (Hereford) led Maryland (6-3 overall and in the Big Ten) with five points on two goals and three assists, and four other players manufactured multiple-point outings. But sophomore attacker Hannah Leubecker, who led the offense in goals (35) and points (36), was limited to one goal on eight shots, and the team did not look sharp in its first game since suffering a two-game sweep by No. 2 Northwestern on March 27 and 29.
“Obviously, we’re happy that we came out with this win, but I don’t think we’re going to coming out of this super hyped up,” said fifth-year senior midfielder Hannah Warther, who scored a team-high four goals. “We still have a lot of stuff to work on. We haven’t played a whole 60 minutes of greatness. We’ve seen some signs of greatness throughout each of our games, but we definitely have a lot to improve on, and we’re looking forward to playing a full 60 minutes of Maryland lacrosse.”
The Terps committed 17 turnovers, tying a season worst. They also controlled only 12 draws (their third-lowest total of the season) to the Scarlet Knights’ 15.
Maryland maintained an advantage in ground balls (23-18) and saves (11-4), but this may not have been the type of showing the team would have liked before visiting No. 20 Penn State (3-6-, 3-6), which upended the Terps, 15-13, on Feb. 21.
“It was definitely way closer than we would have liked,” Warther said. “I think that if we didn’t have 17 turnovers, it would have been less of a game. So going into the next game, we’re going to make that one of our core focuses. If we have five less turnovers, that could mean two or three more goals.”
Maryland broke a 3-3 tie with five unanswered goals over a 10:57 span to assume an 8-3 advantage and give off the impression that it was in control of the game. But Rutgers closed out the first half with four consecutive goals in 3:42 to trail by only one at 8-7 at halftime.
The Terps opened the second half with two quick goals to gain a three-goal cushion and then repeated that effort to take a 12-9 lead with 11:56 remaining. But junior attacker Marin Hartshorn, the younger sister of former Maryland standout midfielder Kali Hartshorn, assisted on three straight Scarlet Knights goals with senior attacker Hannah Hollingsworth registering the equalizer for a 12-12 score with 6:06 left in regulation.
Maryland scored twice to pull away, but may have benefited from some fortunate circumstances. Sophomore midfielder Shaylan Ahearn’s free-position shot appeared to get deflected, but still had enough mustard to bloop over freshman goalkeeper Sophia Cardello (four saves) and into the net with 3:59 left.
Rutgers won the ensuing draw, but Ahearn knocked down a pass by senior midfielder Julia Lytle, and the Terps had the ball with 86 seconds left on the shot clock and 2:23 left on the game clock. In an attempt to apply pressure, Cardello left the cage to try to grab a loose ball, but senior attacker Catie May (McDonogh) got there first and fed fifth-year senior attacker Brindi Griffin (McDonogh) for an empty-net goal that cemented the win.
Maryland coach Cathy Reese credited the Scarlet Knights with being unrelenting.
“They fight hard, and they went through the whole 60 minutes,” she said. “We would make a mistake, and they would capitalize. We gave up four goals in four minutes at the end of the first half, and they weren’t letting off the gas. They were continuing to go and pressure us all the way through that final whistle. We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and taking care of those possessions. We can’t keep giving them back to any teams in the Big Ten, let alone to a team like Rutgers.”
Hartshorn paced Rutgers (3-6, 3-6) with game high in assists (five) and points (eight), and Hollingsworth and sophomore midfielder Cassidy Spilis scored three goals each. Coach Melissa Lehman applauded her team’s fight.
“I think it was a tight game,” she said. “Early on, we didn’t capitalize on our possessions, but were able to claw back. We just really had the mindset of one play at a time and started to chip away. We controlled a lot of key draws in that run that brought us back. I think it was just exciting down the stretch to share the ball and get the ball moving.”
>> In recognition of Senior Day, 11 of 12 seniors started Thursday. Attacker Maggie Root (St. Paul’s), midfielder Brooke Robbins (Severn), defenders Laurie Bracey (Centennial) and Kylie Davis (Century), and goalkeeper Madison Hine (Dulaney) got their first starts of the season.
>> Hine played the entire first half, making six saves while giving up seven goals. The Phoenix resident impressed Reese. “Madison Hine had her moments tonight, and she made some great saves and came up with the ball quite often,” Reese said. “I loved the way she played, I loved that she came out on fire, and I think it was really fun for her to play behind [senior defender] Tori [Barretta] and [fifth-year senior defender] Lizzie [Colson] and [senior midfielder] Grace [Griffin] and [senior defender] Kylie [Davis] and [senior defender] Laurie [Bracey] and everyone she’s been with for the past four years.”
>> Colson (Manchester Valley) finished with game highs in ground balls (seven) and caused turnovers (six) and added four ground balls, and roommate Brindi Griffin praised her. “She would never admit how good she is. So I can brag for her,” she said. “She is incredible on the draw, she is incredible on defense, and I’m so lucky to play with her.”
NO. 11 MARYLAND@NO. 14 PENN SATE
Sunday, 1 p.m.