By Alex Littlehales
The No.1 Maryland Terrapins extended their win streak to five games with a 10-7 victory against No.5 Syracuse this Saturday. With a stadium filled to the brim with over 1,500 fans, the stage was set for a rematch of last years national title game.
Despite the win, Cummings said in a post game interview “I don’t think we’ve played to our potential yet…we’re not settling and we’re not ready to be.”
The Terps took advantage of Syracuse’s initially stagnant defense within the first minute of the game, with one of Erin Collins’ two first half goals. Syracuse was out for revenge in this Top 10 matchup, as Erica Bodt would end up tying it after a Syracuse free possession.
Backed by goalie Alex Fitzgerald’s three consecutive saves and a lockdown defense, the Terps pushed the tempo to extend their lead 3-1 within the first five minutes of the match.
The game came to a 10-minute standstill, where both offenses were unable to execute their plays with precision. Goals from the Orange’s Halle Majorana and Kayla Treanor broke the stalemate, and would help the team back to a 4-3 deficit. The story of the first half was one dominated by Terrapin experience and commitment to teamwork.
Syracuse’s eight first half turnovers proved deadly for the visiting powerhouse. The Terps took advantage of every dropped ball and fault of miscommunication, either converting for goal in their high-flying transition system, or using the possession to slow down the pace of the game.
Even if Maryland had to grind it out in the half field, the goals came off of concise set plays that kept the audience on the edge of their seats every possession.
Soon the Maryland offense picked up, as the final five minutes of the half saw two goals from Taylor Cummings and an assist to senior Kristen Lamon off an alley-oop pass with 30 seconds left.
After a timeout at the 13 second mark, Syracuse drove downfield to score, only for it to be taken away with an inside the crease violation.
Despite 20 shots on goal and being down 7-3 after the first half, Syracuse goalie Kelsey Richardson pulled in 16 saves to help aide the Orange for a future surge.
The second half saw a completely different Syracuse attack, as Kayla Treanor sniped in 3 consecutive unassisted goals all within a 4-minute period. The second goal would end up being the highlight of the game. Treanor juked her way to the goal before ripping a no look behind the back laser to the right corner that left the crowd, and even the press box, stunned in awe.
“She could find any hole in the net and put it in, I give her props,” said Fitzpatrick after the game.
“It wasn’t really the way we wanted to start the second half,” said head coach Cathy Reese. “We have a lot of respect for their offense.”
She had gone scoreless in last week’s upset loss against Boston College, so she was determined to make an impact against the nations best program.
Maryland was able to stabilize the momentum swing, with Cummings streaking from half field to the goal and scoring an unassisted goal to put the Terps back up by two.
After Halle Majorana narrowed the lead to 8-7, Cuse caught yet another bad break. The game tying goal by sophomore Taylor Poplawski was waived off after a stick check had ruled the stick illegal, disqualifying the goal.
“I thought it was illegal as the play was going, so I took a chance and called a stick check,” said Reese.
Despite a promising potential comeback, penalties would end up being the Achilles heel of the match, with all four yellow cards coming in the second half amidst a Cuse resurgence.
Turnovers also revisited the Orange, leading to consecutive goals by Taylor Cummings again, capping her game total at six.
Although Syracuse would attempt to match Maryland’s high-octane style of offense, the Terps never looked back, beating the No.5 team in the nation and former conference rival in a day reminiscent of spring here in College Park.
Fitzpatrick ended the day with 8 saves, and freshman Megan Whittle continued to show improvement by often controlling the offense and contributing a goal of her own early in the first half.
The Terps will take on Towson this Wednesday on the Tigers home turf in this in-state rivalry game.