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23-0! Unbeaten Terps win Championship

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: Kathryn Leeber

They didn’t look at it as redemption for last year, they just went out and won it for this year. And in the process, the Maryland Terrapins women’s lacrosse team made history with an undefeated season to go with their third national championship in four years as they beat Boston College, 16-13 in Gillette Stadium in front of a record-breaking championship game crowd of 11,668. It is Maryland’s 14th National Championship in program history.

“I’m really proud of our team, proud of our effort,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said. “We really struggled shooting in the first half and came out on fire in the second. They played well, played their hearts out. To have the season they had this year, going undefeated is really something special.”

Caroline Steele also put her name in the record books individual with six goals, tying the championship game record. Maryland needed them against a tough Boston College team, especially considering their own star player Kenzie Kent had five goals and five assists in the game.

“Caroline played great,” Reese said. “She stepped up when we needed her and it was unbelievable.”

Steele’s goals were split evenly between the first and second half, but especially in the first half where Maryland totaled only five goals on 25 shots, her scores were crucial in helping Maryland keep it level at the break. She then scored two more in a vital five-goal Maryland run to open the second half that gave them enough of a cushion to withstand Boston College’s run at them.

Just ten seconds into the game, freshman Kali Hartshorn ran straight to the net off a pass from Tewaaraton Award finalist Zoe Stukenberg. Hartshorn put the ball into the goal and set the record for the fastest score in Maryland history.

Just a minute after that goal, Taylor Hensh collected a rebound off a shot and sent the ball back into the net accurately to give Maryland a quick 2-0 lead.

Boston College wouldn’t let the Terps run away with things, though. Sam Apuzzo put the Eagles on the board four minutes into the match after a perfectly-timed pass by Kent. While Hartshorn was winning draw controls, which ultimately aided in Maryland’s scoring opportunities, some early ground ball pickups by the Eagles likewise gave them some chances.

After a save by Eagles goalkeeper Zoe Ochoa, Apuzzo tied the game after cutting inside and finishing a pass from midfielder Kaileen Hart.

That was when Steele scored three in a row herself, including two just two minutes apart to put the Terps ahead 5-2.

But turnovers were hurting Maryland in the first half as well. They had three turnovers within a five-minute period that turned into two goals by Boston College. A free position goal from Lauren Frankenfield with 10 minutes left in the half forced a 5-5 tie at halftime.

Maryland was struggling to create succinct plays to score, but their defense was helping them. Maryland goalkeeper Meg Taylor only had three saves in the first 15 minutes, but they were enough to keep the game level and gave the team some confidence going into the second half.

“They (Boston College) are dangerous and we have a lot of respect for them,” Reese said. “They are a tough team to defend. They have good opportunities early on I think our goalie Meg Taylor came up with some great saves, especially in the second half to limit them.”

Taylor had nine saves in the second half but it was also helpful for the Terps that they got off to a very hot start in the second half. Maryland came out swinging and scored five straight goals to build a 10-5 lead. The first goal mirrored the start of the game, with Megan Whittle scoring just 20 seconds into the second stanza. Steele then scored back-to-back goals to raise her tally to five for the game. She also assisted Jen Giles’ first goal of the game soon after. Giles added another goal to complete the run.

While Ochoa started the game and the top-scoring Terps offense only scored five goals in the first half, Boston College decided to make a goalie change at halftime and went with Lauren Daly. But after the five-goal Maryland run, they made the move back to Ochoa.

And with her in goal, Boston College worked on a comeback with a goal from Kate Weeks, which was assisted by Kent. Kent then went on to make a run in front of the goal and sent a shot low past Taylor.

After three shot attempts and a five-minute possession, Kent added her second straight goal to cut Boston College’s deficit down to only two. With possession and momentum, they had a chance to make it a one-goal game, but the Eagles turned the ball over. Lizzie Colson scooped up the ball, Maryland went on a fast-break and Whittle scored to end an eight-minute scoring drought and put the Terps back up by three goals. That really proved to be crucial because even though the Eagles could get back within one goal, they were never able to tie the game in the second half.

Kent was not going to let the Eagles go down without a fight and scored her fourth goal of the game with 17 minutes left. She then assisted Dempsey Arsenault to make it a one-goal game. Kent Also scored after Wannen and Hensh went back-to-back, but Maryland responded with three straight goals to gain a six-goal lead with less than five minutes left

Apuzzo scored two more times in the final three minutes to up her total for the year to 80 goals and helped set a new Division I women’s championship game record with a combined 29 goals, but the Terps were able to run out the clock late to complete their incredible 23-0 championship season.

“This is an easy group to lead. They are so self-motivated and so selfless, so self-drive and talented,” Stukenberg said. “I think all 10 seniors did an awesome job to show every player on the field that we believe in them and trusted them to go out the way I think we deserved.”

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So Much Sports Baltimore is one of the leading providers of college sports coverage in Baltimore, dedicated to telling the stories of both men's and women's programs, while also providing commentary for Ravens, Orioles and just about everything else. So Much Sports Baltimore was started in 2012 by Corey Johns upon his graduation from UMBC. Hard work, dedication, and not very much sleep have helped him built it to what it's become and continues to grow to be. So Much Sports Baltimore is a part of national So Much Sports network.

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