For the 10th straight year, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team is headed to the Final Four, where they will take on either Stony Brook or Boston College for the shot at a back-to-back national championship.
Junior midfielder Jen Giles tied a career-high four goals as the top-seeded Terps (20-1) overcame a three-goal deficit due to Navy senior attacker Julia Collins’ eight goals to defeat the Midshipmen, 17-15.
Three Maryland attackers, senior Megan Whittle, sophomore Kali Hartshorn and senior Taylor Hensh all scored hat tricks, while junior goalie Megan Taylor had 13 saves on the day, matching a season-high and making her 500th career save.
“Our defense and Meg [Taylor] just anchored it down and kept us in this game… to give us an opportunity to take the lead late in the second half,” Whittle said. “I’m so proud to be a Terp and to end my career here at Maryland on this field with a win.”
For Navy head coach Cindy Timchal, it was a matchup against her protege, Maryland head coach Cathy Reese, whom she coached and brought on as an assistant coach when she was the head coach at Maryland from 1991-2006.
“Proud of our girls and how we rebounded today,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “They never gave up, they stayed in the moment and didn’t get ahead of themselves… so it’s a good day to be a Terp.”
The Midshipmen (18-4) made their presence known in the early moments of the games, as senior attacker Julia Collins and sophomore midfielder Kayla Harris scored two straight goals for Navy to up 2-0.
The Terps got rid of their early-game jitters quickly, and it did not take long for senior attacker Taylor Hensh to start the scoring run for her team with a free position goal. Freshman midfielder Grace Griffin capitalized on a pass from sophomore Brindi Griffin to tie the score up at two apiece, and Giles capped off the run with her first goal of the day, also assisted by Brindi Griffin.
Navy bounced back with another goal by Collins, but the Terps would respond with a five-goal run.
Junior attacker Caroline Steele quickly regained the lead with a shot to the bottom right corner of the cage past Navy goalie Ingrid Boyum, and junior midfielder Meghan Siverson brought the Terps’ lead to 6-3 on a free position shot. And Hartshorn, who was already dominating on the draw, scored her first goal of the day with just under 17 minutes left in the half.
Giles scored her second from the eight-meter arc to give the Terps an 8-3 lead. Still, Navy came back storming with two straight goals from Collins within 30 seconds, sparking a five-goal run to end the first half.
Hartshorn brought the Terps up 9-5 for her second goal of the game, but Navy stayed within two as sophomore attacker Kelly Larkin capitalized off a pass to the inside from Collins, who then got her fifth goal.
For the next two goals, it was all Collins. Midfielder Jenna Collins scored her first goal of the game, and within 30 seconds of her twin sister, Julia Collins brought her goal total to six to tie the score at nine.
To close out the half, junior midfielder Andie O’Sullivan gave Navy a 10-9 lead at the half, making this only the second game of the season that the Terps have been down at halftime, previously facing a four-goal deficit against Princeton on April 10.
“This is a tough round. It’s tough to make sure that you don’t get ahead of ourselves, and I think that was our challenge all day today,” Reese said. “When we went up we kind of took our foot off the gas… and then we were playing catch-up for awhile.”
Picking up right where they left off, Navy earned the first two goals of the second half, including Julia Collins’ seventh goal, but Giles finally brought the Navy run to an end with her third goal. Hartshorn followed Giles to complete her hat trick, bringing the Terps within a goal.
The Terps’ momentum was short-lived, as O’Sullivan scored her second goal and extended the Navy lead to 13-11. A minute later Collins continued dominating the Terps’ defense with an eighth goal.
Erasing a three goal deficit, Hensh’s second goal began a six-goal run. Giles scored her fourth goal, and after Whittle was able to score her first goal of the game on a free position shot, she didn’t slow down.
“I think we all were really fired up,” Whittle said. “Taylor [Hensh] grabbed my face and said start shooting the ball, and I said, ‘OK’. So I did.”
Whittle scored three straight goals to give the Terps a 16-14 lead, and once Hensh extended the lead to three, Maryland saw their dreams of making it to Stony Brook becoming a reality.
The Terps will play in their 10th straight championship weekend, taking on the winner of the Boston College-Stony Brook quarterfinal on Friday in the Final Four semifinal game in Stony Brook, New York.
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