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Terps roll into fifth straight title game

Maryland will make their 21st all-time appearance in the NCAA Division I Championship game on Sunday.

Special Contribution to So Much Sports Baltimore
By: Kathryn Leeber

Jen Giles had a career day as she scored eight points on four goals and four assists to lead the No. 1 Maryland women’s lacrosse team to a 20-10 victory over Big Ten rival Penn State in their semifinals game, and the Terps back to their fifth straight NCAA Championship game.

Penn State’s first goal, the first goal of the game, was their only lead as Maryland was able to score consecutive goals multiple times throughout the night to run away with the win. Five Maryland players scored at least three goals to ensure a Terps victory.

“I’m really proud of our team’s effort today, we were fired up and prepared I thought they executed our game plan very well,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said. “We’re looking forward to continuing our season for a couple more days.”

Despite losing the opening draw to the Terps, Penn State scored the first goal of the game when Maria Auth finished a free position attempt about a minute and a half in to put the Nittany Lions up 1-0. But it was short-lived.

The Terps followed right after to tie the score with Caroline Wannen starting off the scoring opportunities for Maryland. Maryland continued to win most of the draws and followed soon after their first goal with another shot but Penn State Goalkeeper Cat Rainone made the save. However, Zoe Stukenberg tried again with a free position attempt and succeeded this time, taking the lead for Maryland. This was her 51st goal of the season, but would not be her last for the night.

The Terps scored right after with the unassisted goal coming from Giles. Giles had two goals and two assists in each half.

Penn State called a timeout to try to settle things down but it was Maryland that benefited. Stuckenberg scored her second goal of the night off a pass from Wannen, bringing the score to 4-1.

Jen Giles scored a career-high eight points, split on four goals and four assists against Penn State.

Maryland tried their luck again, but the shot was blocked and the ball went to Penn State. The Nittany Lions were able to convert following a perfectly timed spin move from Madison Carter, her 70th goal of the season, to earn their second goal of the night. This goal ended a 4-0 Maryland run with just over 22 minutes remaining in the first half.

Maryland was able to take over half of the draw controls in the first half. They ended the half with 12, while Penn State took five.

“Last time we played Penn State we really lacked on the draw area of our game, so I wanted to make sure, personally, that I could step up and help the team on the draw side,” Hartshorn said. “I think what went right was just the team chemistry.”

Penn State maintained a strong defense which forced a turnover, giving them a fleeting moment to score. The shot was ultimately blocked by Maryland goalkeeper Megan Taylor. After a Penn State foul, the Terps were able to extend their lead even further to 5-2 with a goal from Megan Whittle.

Looking to change the momentum of the game, Nittany Lions’ midfielder Maggie Gallagher added a goal off a pass from Taylor Bleistein bringing the score to 5-3. Maryland stopped any more chances of scoring for Penn State and added two more to their score. Whittle and Giles both scored their second goals of the game, respectively, within minutes of each other.

The Terps fumbled with 13 minutes remaining, turning over the ball to Penn State and allowing Katie O’Donnell to score. Maryland went on to score three unanswered goals, the first coming from Taylor Hensh and the assist going to Giles. The Hensh-Giles duo scored again less than a minute later to extend the lead to 9-4.

A back-and-forth game ensued in the last few minutes of the game. The third unanswered goal came from standout freshman Kali Hartshorn with an assist for Stukenberg. Penn State scored their last goal of the half with just under six minutes to play. O’Donnell notched her second goal of the game, but the team still struggled to shut down the Terps. Hartshorn ended Maryland’s first half scoring with two minutes to play, giving the team an 11-5 lead going into the second half.

Nittany Lion defender Natalie Schmitt was given the game’s only yellow card with six minutes left to play before the intermission.

The second half started with less action than the first half, but Maryland was able to keep up their momentum. Giles scored her third goal of the game less than three minutes into the half further extending the Terps lead. Assisted by Stukenberg, she directly followed up with another goal.

Even with the many Maryland goals, Rainone ended the game with eight saves, nearly matching Taylor’s 10 saves.

The scoring front was quiet for the next five minutes until Penn State put a stop to the Terps’ 3-0 run. Maggie Gallagher scored her second goal of the game unassisted with 21 minutes remaining, moving the score to 13-6.

The Nittany Lions were unable to find their momentum due to the Terps continued pressure. Hartshorn added another goal, assisted by Giles. This was Giles third assist of the game, in addition to her four goals, maintaining Maryland’s lead at 14-6.

Gallagher made her third goal of the game off of a pass from Steph Lazo for Penn State. The team continued to rally with an immediate goal from Lazo, unassisted, to cut Maryland’s lead with a score of 14-8.

The Terps did not allow the Nittany Lions to celebrate, as they repeated their last goal with Hartshorn scoring off the assist from Giles. Maryland’s defense kept any chances for Penn State at bay as they forced turnovers and were able to score another three goals furthering the lead 18-8 with just over 10 minutes to play.

With three goals, Whittle earned a hat-trick and became the fifth Terp with at least three goals, joining teammates Hartshorn, Giles, Stukenberg, and Hensh.

The team added to their 4-0 run with Brandi Griffin’s first goal of the game, assisted by Whittle. Penn State halted the Terp’s streak with seven minutes to play, but still did not make a dent in Maryland’s 10-point lead.

Each team was able to score one more goal rounding out the final score to 20-10.

Maryland will play in the championship game on Sunday, May, 28 in Boston, Mass. They will play Boston College, which beat Navy 16-15 in the second semifinals game. Maryland routed Boston College 21-13 earlier this season, but the Eagles are still dangerous as they have produced the seventh-highest scoring offense in the country this year.

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