Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland women’s lacrosse shocked by Boston College, falls in Final Four, 17-16

With 7:13 to play, Maryland appeared in control with a three-goal lead.

Boston College’s offense roared back and tied the game with three minutes to play. With less than a minute remaining, the Eagles had one last chance to complete an impeccable comeback.

Guarded closely from behind, Caitlynn Mossman delivered a pass to a cutting Cassidy Weeks, who buried what became the game-winning goal with 18 seconds to play.

Enduring a devastating finish, Maryland women’s lacrosse saw its championship hopes dashed as Boston College squeaked by the Terps, 17-16.

“It’s hard when your season ends that way,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “It’s hard when the last goal of the game is scored with 18 seconds left.”

The second half of the NCAA Semifinal was a shootout. Both teams combined for 20 goals in the half, which tied for the most in a semifinal game.

Throughout the offensively-dominated half, the Terps’ grew a slight lead that they clung onto for almost the entirety of the final 30 minutes. However, the Terps’ offense fell silent in the most crucial moment of its season. 

“I just knew our defense would step up at the right moment,” Weeks said. “We just took what we could get and ran with it.”

In the final five minutes, Maryland saw a three-goal lead evaporate. Costly turnovers led to Boston College’s offense exploding for a 3-0 run in under two minutes, to tie the game at 16.

“We talked about the pressure the whole game,” Hannah Leubecker said. “At the end of the game they stepped it up, but we were expecting that…we’d like a couple of those back but that’s on everyone, not on one person.”

After Boston College tied the game, Maryland found themselves with a crucial offensive possession in a tie game. Leubecker made a dodge towards the cage, but the ball jarred loose from her stick in the process.

“I thought they did a good job of coming out and pressuring us and making us do something different than we normally would,” Leubecker said.

The costly turnover on offense became a bitter aspect of the Terps’ late-game collapse.

Sydney Scales picked up the ground ball for the Eagles, and 72 seconds later, Weeks’ goal became the icing on the cake to a devastating collapse with a trip to the NCAA Championship on the line. With one draw left, Boston College collected the loose ball and ran out the remaining time en route to the victory.

“I just saw the chance opening,” Weeks said. “I knew [Mossman] would throw it, and I put it away.”

Throughout the first few possessions, both defenses were stout. It wasn’t until the seventh minute that reigning Tewaaraton winner Charlotte North ripped a bullet past the head of  Emily Sterling.

Maryland responded to the opening goal with a defensive stop, setting up Libby May to convert the game’s first equalizer on the other end.

Although Maryland lost all five draw controls in the first quarter, Sterling’s four saves kept the Terps even with the Eagles after one.

Maryland lost another draw to open the second quarter. In just 17 seconds, Jenn Medjid gave Boston College the lead.

Maryland won the next draw, but Eloise Clevenger couldn’t convert on her free-position look. After yet another stop on defense, Leubecker got involved — scoring another game-tying goal for the Terps.

“We didn’t win a single draw in the first quarter but [Shaylan Ahearn] and our draw people made some adjustments and crushed it in the next three,” Reese said.

The back and forth affair finally was put to an end when the Eagles’ offense strung together two straight scores, including North’s second of the game.

The downward spiral continued for Maryland. 

On the next trip down for Boston College, Sterling made two difficult saves, but the Terps’ defense couldn’t secure the ground ball. That miscue came back to haunt Maryland as North scored her third, extending the Eagles’ run to 3-0.

Maryland began to show some life when Ahearn ended the scoring drought. Leubecker followed with a hard shot on a free-position chance. In a snap, the Terps’ were back within one.

The Terps’ run continued to the end of the half. Shannon Smith scored the latest game-tying goal, then Clevenger netted a goal on the next possession, giving the Terps their first lead, 7-6.

“To start off, I guess I kind of like to get a feel for the draw,” Ahearn said. “We did a really good job of taking advantage of the different options that we have on the circle.”

After trailing by three with 5:33 remaining in the half, the Terps’ offense had finally broken through, using a 4-0 run to lead at the half.

Boston College quickly matched the Terps’ score, but freshman Jordyn Lipkin responded with a big-time score. As she was pushed into the crease, Lipkin turned her stick over and flipped her shot in for the score. Boston College argued that it should have been a crease violation, but the goal stood.

Lipkin then continued her spark.

Guarded closely from behind, Lipkin dished a pass inside to a cutting May, who scored her third and pushed Maryland ahead by two.

Boston College was able to add one more before the end of the third, cutting Maryland’s lead back to just one with a quarter to play.

“Maryland gave us literally everything we could handle,” Boston College head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. 

The first two possessions of the fourth featured Leubecker’s fourth goal, followed by a free-position strike by Clevenger, extending the Terps’ lead to three.

Boston College wouldn’t go away easily. Controlling the next draw led to North’s fourth score of the day. Leubecker scored her fifth, but the Eagles’ offense kept the pressure on and got back within two scores.

“I’m just really proud of our girls. They stuck it out all the way to the end,” Walker-Weinstein said.

After Lipkin continued her strong performance, Medjid scored her third then North found herself celebrating a score for the fifth time of the evening. Maryland’s three-goal lead decreased to just a minuscule one.

A costly Maryland turnover led to North’s sixth goal, which tied the game at 16 with 3:40 to go.

“I really give all the credit to the defense,” Walker-Weinstein said. “The goals are in a way the easy part. The defense is the most challenging part of the game and our defense really stepped up.”

The conclusion of the Terps’ season came earlier than they wished, but overall, it was a more than successful campaign. 

Coming into the season as the ninth ranked team, expectations weren’t as high as a typical Maryland team. The Terps’ began to gain respect around the NCAA as they handled tough opponents with ease in the early part of the season.

After an impressive 8-0 start, Maryland suffered its only loss of the regular season at the hands of James Madison. From then on, the Terps’ strung together an eleven game winning streak that propelled them into becoming a serious contender to win a national title.

It came down to the final minutes of the NCAA Semifinals for another women’s lacrosse juggernaut in Boston College to finish off the Terps. With still so much returning talent, Maryland will certainly be on the radar to contend again in 2023.