Breaking News:

So Much Sports Baltimore has officially shut down on August 7, 2017, but would like to thank all of our readers, writers and everybody who helped make this website possible.

Terps survive test by JHU in B1G semis

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: Dan Bernstein

When the top-ranked Maryland women’s lacrosse team faced Johns Hopkins on March 19, the Blue Jays kept the game close in the first half.

At the intermission of that contest, the Terps led, 7-3. But in the second half, Maryland outscored Johns Hopkins, 10-1, to earn a convincing 17-4 victory.

In Friday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal, No. 4-seed Johns Hopkins again started on even footing with No. 1-seed Maryland, even taking a two-score lead in the first five minutes. And this time, the Blue Jays managed to stay within striking distance the whole way, never trailing by more than six.

Still, the Terps’ attack ultimately took over in a 19-16 win.

“Johns Hopkins really evolved offensively [since our last meeting],” Maryland attacker Megan Whittle said. “They challenged our defense a lot.”

Without midfielder Jen Giles, who missed out due to injury, the Terps used a balanced attack to overcome the Blue Jays’ multiple defensive looks, which included both zone and man-to-man schemes. Five Maryland players registered goals, as the squad reached at least 18 scores for the ninth time this campaign.

While attacker Kali Hartshorn admitted the Terps “really missed Jen [Giles],” she lauded her teammates for pushing through the adversity.

Whittle and attacker Caroline Steele scored five goals, while Hartshorn notched four and midfielder Zoe Stukenberg added three.

With a first-half strike, Whittle became the sixth player in program history to reach 200 career goals, doing so in just 63 games. She called the accomplishment “exciting” and said her father was in attendance giving her a thumbs up after she reached the mark.

“That’s a huge milestone for her,” Terps coach Cathy Reese said. “She’s fantastic. She just has such good speed and field sense and is a great dodger. Her ability to go to goal is very unique.”

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, were paced by midfielder Shannon Fitzgerald’s four scores.

Johns Hopkins registered three of the game’s first four goals. After Whittle netted in the first minute, the Blue Jays reeled off three straight scores through Fitzgerald, attacker Emily Kenul and attacker CeCe Finney.

“Hopkins came out hard today,” Reese said. “We were a step late a lot on defense, a step late on our slides. I thought they shot really well and moved off the ball really well, which made it difficult for us.”

But Maryland answered with the kind of offensive burst that allowed it to score nearly 17 goals per game during the regular season. Behind first-half hat tricks from Whittle, Hartshorn, and Steele, the Terps went on a 9-1 run to take a 10-4 advantage with around 13 minutes left in the half.

In particular, the play of Steele, who doesn’t draw the same level of recognition as more touted teammates such as Whittle or Stuckenberg, impressed the Terps.

“Caroline Steele is down there [scoring] four or five goals per game,” Whittle said. “It’s incredible. You can’t ask for anything more from her.”

However, unlike the first meeting between the conference rivals, Johns Hopkins rebounded from the Maryland’s initial blow, as the Blue Jays netted the next four goals. While Stukenberg scored twice for the Terps in the final four minutes of the first half, Johns Hopkins only trailed 12-8 entering the break.

That was reflective of Maryland’s inconsistency throughout the matchup.

“We just needed to keep our intensity up a little bit,” Hartshorn said. “We lagged a little bit going five minutes on, five minutes off. We just needed to bring it all together defensively.”

Finney completed a free position score one minute into the second half, and after a pair of Maryland goals, Johns Hopkins midfielder Haley Schweizer converted an unassisted finish to keep her squad’s deficit at four with just over 19 minutes remaining.

But the Blue Jays could not close the gap.

Each time Johns Hopkins looked to come back, Maryland’s dynamic attack countered. After Kenul caught a flip pass on the run, spun around a defender and whipped a shot past Terps goalkeeper Megan Taylor, and Finney completed her hat trick with a bouncing effort to make it 16-13 with 11:48 left, the Terps stemmed the run.

Steele and Hartshorn netted within 50 seconds of one another to push Maryland’s lead back to five, and despite a late three-goal burst from the Blue Jays, the Terps held on to advance to the Big Ten tournament final where they’ll face the winner of Penn State and Northwestern on Sunday.

For Johns Hopkins, the energetic showing built an argument for a postseason berth.

“We knew we had to have a good game against them to make a good case for ourselves for the tournament,” Schweizer said, “and I think we did just that.”

For Maryland, the result matched the “survive and advance” mantra it had preached in the week leading up to Friday’s tilt. Still, the Terps would’ve liked a cleaner showing against the Blue Jays.

“We need to be better,” Reese said. “We had moments that were great, but some opportunities [we gave up] were too easy. We need to be better to limit those opportunities.”

Nonetheless, Maryland understood the importance of continuing their unbeaten season and advancing to the next stage of the conference tournament. While the Terps were imperfect, they did enough to move on.

“At the end of the day we came out with a win,” Whittle said, “and we’re really excited to move on to the Big Ten conference championship.”

Maryland will host Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game on Sunday at noon. The Wildcats beat Penn State in their semifinal game, 12-11.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

Comments are closed.