The No. 2 Maryland women’s lacrosse team defeated No. 8 Syracuse 18-11 behind a well-balanced offensive attack, including two hat tricks in the first half by junior attacker Caroline Steele and senior attacker Taylor Hensh.
Steele finished the game with the team-high five goals and seven points and Hensh was right behind her with four goals of her own.
While Syracuse (4-2) and Maryland (5-1) hold the No. 1 and No. 4 offenses in the country, it was the Maryland defense that was the star of the first half. The Terps stout defense and goalkeeping from junior Megan Taylor held the No. 1 offense to only 4 goals in the first 30 minutes.
The game unexpectedly went eight minutes without a goal, with both teams showing some nerves, committing early turnovers. Whittle was given her first real shot opportunity with a free position shot in the eighth minute, but sophomore goalkeeper Asa Goldstock made a quick save for Syracuse to keep it scoreless.
The Orange struck first with a goal from freshman Sam Swart following an unselfish pass from fellow freshman Molly Carter.
The Syracuse goal sparked the Terps into action, with three straight goals in just over a minute of play. Hensh opened the door with her first of four goals on the day and led the way for another goal from junior midfielder and fellow captain Jen Giles.
Whittle showed why she is the No. 1 player in the country for free position shots as she scored her first goal of the day to cap off the Maryland 3-0 run. Whittle had a hat trick on the day, bringing her goal total to 26 only six games in.
Syracuse’s powerhouse attacker Nicole Levy countered back with her 13th goal of the season to bring the Orange back within one.
Steele scored the next three goals for the Terps and gave her team a four-goal lead with six minutes left in the first half.
The Orange were able to find sophomore attacker Emily Hawryschuk, who leads the Orange with 18 goals on the season, for her final goal of the first half, but Hensh closed out the first half by completing her first-half hat trick and brought the score to 8-4.
The Terps jumped right back into action by scoring the first three goals of the second half to go up 11-4 in the form of a Giles goal and a fourth goal for both Hensh and Steele. Syracuse swapped out Goldstock in goal with freshman Hannah Van Middelem, but the Terps had already gained momentum to let that stop them.
The Orange scored back-to-back goals from freshmen Swart and Carter, which was their first time scoring consecutive goals.
Sophomore attacker Kali Hartshorn is known for her dominance on draw controls but showed she can do it all with a hat trick in the second half in addition to her 7 draw controls.
With the clock running following Maryland’s five straight goals, the Orange gained a sense of urgency and scored three quick goals, including two from Hawryschuk.
The Orange got within six goals with just under five minutes left following a Carter goal and a free position goal from Swart but the comeback effort came up short.
The early-ranked matchup is Maryland’s third of the short season thus far after taking on Florida and UNC, but this game in particular was personal for both head coach Cathy Reese and Rudkin, who spent the previous three years at Syracuse before transferring to Maryland for her senior season.
Syracuse head coach Gary Gait was an assistant coach at Maryland while Reese was still a player there and has never beaten his former player.
The Terps will play their second straight road game when they take on No. 23 Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Mar. 17 at noon.