Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

No. 2 Terps use quick start and strong defensive communication en route to 15-7 victory over No. 14 Princeton

With 25:54 remaining in the first half, sophomore attacker Brindi Griffin faked left and quickly shifted right, breaking her defenders ankles. The rocker step left senior defender Alex Argo in the dust and Griffin fired the low bounce shot into the back of the net after several stick fakes.

Griffin’s goal was one of five in the first five minutes for Maryland (11-0, 2-0 B1G), who came out of the gates firing and did not look back. The win is the Terps seventh victory over a ranked opponent thus far this season.

It was an all-around solid effort for the Terps who scored slightly less than their season average of 15.80 goals per game, but also held the Tigers to nearly half of their season average of 14.86 goals. Senior goalie Megan Taylor put together another phenomenal performance with 14 saves, however, the defensive communication was strong in front of her throughout.

“We had a great defensive game with communication, talking through things and defending cutters,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “We knew [Princeton] was going to have a lot of movement, a lot of cutters, so communicating through the picks was a big thing,” senior defender Lizzie Colson said.

Shooting efficiency and success in the draw control are two things that coach Reese has harped on heavily throughout this season, which Maryland executed well. As a unit, the Terps won 18 of 24 draw controls and scored on 58 percent of their shots.

“A lot of [the success in the draw circle and shooting efficiency] comes with experience and confidence,” Reese said. “Kali did an excellent job in the circle herself today, draws equal possessions. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball.”

Senior midfielder Jen Giles got the scoring started for the Terps, executing the pick and roll to perfection with Grace Griffin rifling the shot past sophomore goalie Sam Fish. Soon after, junior attacker Kali Hartshorn cut across the crease and finished the shot far post coming off a feed from Brindi Griffin. Midfielder Erica Evans continued the Terps hot start, using a pure speed dodge down the alley with a perfectly placed shot leaving no chance for Fish to make the save.

“I think on offense we focus a lot on just playing together and really spreading out and seeing the opportunities,” Giles said. “Practice really challenges to us to play whatever style of defense we’re going to see.”

After the Terps three goal run, Princeton bounced right back with a goal of its own senior attacker Julia Haney executed a backdoor cut to perfection catching the Maryland defense in a miscommunication. However, the two goal deficit was the closest the Tigers would come the remainder of the game. Continuing the early theme of off-ball movement, sophomore attacker Catie May took a pass from Hartshorn in stride and made no mistake about scoring her seventh goal of the season.

In the ensuing five minutes, both the Tigers and Terps struggled with maintaining possessions with several turnovers between them. Overall, the Terps had 17 turnovers something that the coaching staff has tried to improve with each game.

“The next step out of that first look is making sure out we don’t turn it over, so we can make possessions count like we did in the first five minutes,” Reese said.

After the sloppy five minutes both teams went back and forth, first Haney scored another goal for the Tigers and soon after Giles split the seam of Princeton defense and easily finished the goal without a defender in the area. The scrappy Tigers would not give up, however, senior attacker Allie Rogers dodged around the left side of the cage and finished the high shot from a tough angle cutting the Terps lead to 6-3.

With both teams scoring nine goals in the first 15 minutes, each defense began to communicate better, not allowing anything easy on offense. After an 11 minute goal drought for both teams, when senior attacker Elizabeth George found just enough space with her hands free and beat Megan Taylor to the far post. Roughly a minute later, senior midfielder Meghan Siverson scored her first goal of the day on the feed from Brindi Griffin displaying her great vision at x.

Unlike the first half, the first five minutes of the second half was a gritty defensive battle with neither team giving up an inch. Giles made sure the Tigers defense wouldn’t build up their confidence for too long, beginning a 4-0 run that catapulted the Maryland lead to 12-4. To start the run, Giles showcased her finesse and footwork with an inside roll dodge around the defender and waited to patiently to pick the spot for her shot.

After Giles’ goal, the Terps scored on three consecutive free position shots aggressively attacking the Tiger defense and making them pay for their physicality. Evans scored her second goal of the game followed by Hartshorn who finished the hat-trick, reaching 30 goals for the third consecutive season. To cap off the four goal run, Giles and junior midfielder Hannah Warther scored back-to-back goals seemingly ending the hopes of a Tiger comeback.

Despite trailing by eight goals, Princeton still maintained the same intensity, scoring three goals in the final 10 minutes of the game two of which came in the final 30 seconds. While the Tigers scored three goals, Maryland also scored three, continuing to use Princeton’s defensive aggressiveness and physicality against them.

Maryland will now travel to Piscataway and face Rutgers on Saturday, where Reese has an opportunity to become tied for the winningest head coach in program history with 260 wins.