Blog from Todd Carton
Because most NCAA Tournaments are single elimination, when people talk about them, the most aptly overused phrase might be “survive and advance.” Though the level of intensity and competition has the opportunity to turn any game into an edge of your seat thriller, this hasn’t often been the case when the game involves the University of Maryland women’s lacrosse team. Until Saturday, that is, when a goal by Taylor Hensh with 2:14 to play lifted the Terrapins to their only lead of the day and completing a stirring 13-12 come from behind win over the Stony Brook Seawolves at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park.
Although Maryland dominated in the draw circle and in time of possession, the Seawolves controlled the game with stifling defense and efficient offense led by presumptive Tewaaraton Award favorite Kylie Ohlmiller. Ohlmiller opened the scoring for Stony Brook and the Terps’ leading scorer, Megan Whittle, would find the equalizer. The only other tie of the game came on Caroline Steele’s goal with just over three minutes remaining that knotted the score at 12.
From the outset, the Seawolves, who were looking to build on the deepest NCAA Tournament run in their program’s history, played as though they had something to prove. Combined with an outstanding effort from goalie Anna Tesoriero, their zone-backer defense seemed to stifle and confuse the Terrapins.
Following Whittle’s goal, Stony Brook ran off four straight goals to build a 5-1 lead. The Terps began to find their footing and chip away at the lead scoring four of the next five to pull within one at 6-5. Just as they appeared to be building some momentum, a late Maryland turnover led to Ohmiller’s third goal of the half with 45 seconds to play. The junior attacker would finish the day with three goals and four assists bringing her season total to an NCAA record 164 points.
However, the Terps weren’t quite done. Whittle drove into the teeth of Stony Brook’s defense and the collapsing zone forced the ball out of her stick. The ever present Zoe Stukenberg, one of Maryland’s two Tewaaraton finalists, picked up the ground ball, turned, took one step and fired a rocket from just outside the eight meter arc that crossed the goal line barely ahead of the buzzer.
The Terps looked to be carrying all the momentum into the second half but this wasn’t the case. After Tesoriero saved Whittles free position chance, the Seawolves responded with a pair of scores to extend their lead to 9-6. Stukenberg’s third score of the day, slowed the Seawolves’ momentum – but only briefly. Taryn Ohlmiller, Kylie’s younger sister, followed a score by Ally Kennedy that put Stony Brook ahead 11-7. The four goal advantaged equaled their largest lead of the day and came with only 14:57 to play.
At this point, Maryland began to show their championship mettle. And that outburst came from some unexpected sources. Barely more than a minute and a half of game time later, the Terps had pulled within one. The eruption began in the draw circle where freshman Kali Hartshorn notched the fourth and fifth of her six draw controls. Just 24 seconds after Ohlmiller’s goal, Jen Giles found a streaking Taylor Hensh who netted a top shelf score. Giles herself scored just 16 seconds after Hensh and then fed her again on a play that looked eerily similar to the first goal in the sequence.
With 11:35 to play, the younger Ohlmiller found the net for the third and final time to put the Seawolves in front 12-10. It would also be Stony Brook’s final goal of the game. The clocked ticked four seconds under nine minutes when Giles scored on a free position. Maryland needed nearly five and a half minutes before Caroline Steele pulled the Terps even for the first time since the score had been tied at one and opening the door for Hensh’s late game winner. Harsthorn helped seal the game with her final draw control and when Steele picked up the carom off of Giles’ missed free position, Maryland was able to run out the clock and advance to the Final Four for the ninth consecutive season. The Terps will travel to Foxboro where, on Friday, they will face the winner of Sunday’s quarterfinal between Penn State and Princeton.
With the win, Maryland improved to 119-2 at home under head coach Cathy Reese and extended their current home winning streak to and NCAA record 65 games.
The current Maryland senior class will leave College Park with a perfect 46-0 record becoming the second consecutive class to graduate with an unblemished home record.
FINAL FOUR NOTES:
Should Princeton upset Penn State Sunday, Maryland will be the only returning team from the 2016 Final Four.
Should Penn State beat Princeton, three of the four head coaches (Missy Doherty 1997, Cathy Reese 1998 and Acacia Walker 2005) will be Maryland graduates. The fourth coach will be Cindy Timchal – the woman who coached the other three.
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