The Maryland Women’s Lacrosse team celebrate Caroline Steele’s (11) winning goal in overtime in Maryland’s game against North Carolina at home, Feb. 24. (Emily Morina/ The Left Bench)

Caroline Steele is the hero in another Maryland-North Carolina instant classic

14 seconds into the second half of the first overtime period, senior attacker Caroline Steele rolled back around her defender and rifled a submarine shot into the back of the net between the legs of No. 3 North Carolina (3-1) sophomore goalie Taylor Moreno.

Immediately after the goal, Steele jumped into the arms of senior midfielder Jen Giles and other teammates for a warm embrace. Earlier in the game, Steele injured her knee and was helped off the field, but would prove to be tough and resilient, a key theme throughout this game.

“When I saw it go in, it was so awesome and I couldn’t wait to just celebrate with my teammates,” Steele said. “Playing UNC year in and year out is always such a hard fought battle, to be able to come out on top this year was awesome.”

The goal gave No. 2 Maryland (3-0) the 13-12 win and added another chapter to the storied Maryland-North Carolina rivalry. It was a game of two halves for Maryland, who outscored UNC 9-4 in the first half, but were outscored 8-4 in the second half and overtime.

“It was a hard fought battle all the way through, I’m proud of my team for having the determination and grit to gut that one out,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “When things weren’t going our way I’m really glad we stuck with it and were able to settle in and grab a big victory here today in College Park.”

Maryland came out of the gates firing, scoring three goals in the first six minutes, and winning its individual matchups between Terp attackers and Carolina defenders. Giles started the scoring for Maryland, her first of five points on the day. After Maryland jumped out to a 3-0 lead, Carolina bounced right back with three goals of its own knotting the score at three.

After allowing the Tar Heels to tie up the score, Maryland closed the half on a 6-1 scoring run with six different players scoring a goal. The Terps consistently beat Carolina on their individual matchups in the first half and made the Tar Heels pay for poor communication.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Reese said. “I thought we came out really strong in the first half.”

However, Carolina bounced back quickly in the second half scoring the first three goals and cutting the Maryland lead to just 9-7. North Carolina generated offensive success the same way Maryland did in the first half, with great off-ball movement and constant cutting.

“We got off to a really slow start in the second half and gave North Carolina some momentum there,” Reese said. “Defensively I think we got caught in some face guards initially, I thought we just looked a little hesitant when they started to gain momentum on us,” Reese said.

Despite Carolina cutting the Maryland lead to just two, the Terps bounced back extending the lead to 11-7 on goals from Steele and junior midfielder Hannah Warther. Although the Tar Heels seemed out of it, they orchestrated a 5-0 run led by their offensive leader sophomore attacker Jamie Ortega, who scored two of her three goals in the second half.

With 12:47 remaining, sophomore midfielder Ally Mastroianni scored a free position goal to give North Carolina its first lead at 12-11. During the run, the Tar Heels played fundamentally sound defense and did not allow the Terps easy opportunities.

“Communication in the second half was significantly better than the first half, I feel like we definitely worked more as a cohesive unit,” Moreno said.

Even with the lead lost, Maryland proved to be resilient once again tying the score at 12 with 6:13 remaining. Junior attacker Kali Hartshorn rifled a backhand shot past Moreno, bringing the Terps and the crowd renewed energy. The final six minutes of regulation and overtime, Maryland played some of its strongest defensive sequences and senior goalie Megan Taylor was outstanding.

“I think everybody just loved being that competitive being in a game like that is so much fun,” Taylor said. “My defense played outstanding in front of me the whole game, they gave me the best opportunities to save the ball.”

In the first half of overtime, Maryland had a seven on four advantage, a rarity in college lacrosse, however, Moreno came up huge stopping Giles on a potential game-winning free position shot.

After not scoring, Maryland played strong defense to close out the first half and had an opportunity to gain possession on the draw control.

Up until that point, Maryland was losing 21-6 in draw controls, but won the most important one when it mattered. To start the second half of overtime, Hartshorn flipped the draw control back about 30 yards and Steele picked up the pivotal ground ball, scoring soon after.

“Kali and Meg they are so unique in their roles that they spend so much time on draw controls, they talk about the details of the draw,” Reese said.

Maryland will now travel to in-state foe UMBC on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.