The Terps (9-6 B1G) put together a solid effort but just could not keep up with the Wildcats (13-0 B1G) for a full 60 minutes.
Izzy Scane was unstoppable for Northwestern, scoring nine goals. The Wildcats dominated at the draw circle winning 22 of 31 there, while they were also efficient on free position shots converting on 10 of 11. Conversely, Maryland was just 4 of 9 on free position opportunities, unable to capitalize on as many opportunities as the Wildcats were.
“Credit to their shooters on that, they really take advantage of their opportunities,” head coach Cathy Reese said about Northwestern’s eight-meter performance. “The fact that we put them on the 8-meter and they scored 10 times, that’s the difference in the game.”
Maryland came out on fire, scoring three goals in the first three minutes of the game. Libby May scored just 20 seconds into the game and then scored again a minute later. Hannah Leubecker made it 3-0 just 14 seconds later.
Sammy Mueller answered for Northwestern but then May and Brindi Griffin scored back to back goals, putting the Terps up 5-1 less than seven minutes into the game. Northwestern cut the deficit to 5-3 before both teams went on a 10-minute scoring drought.
Brindi Griffin broke the drought and then scored again following a Northwestern goal, putting Maryland up 7-4. At the nine-minute mark, Scane, the best goal scorer in the country, took over for Northwestern.
Scane scored three times in a three-minute span, tying up the game going into halftime, giving the Wildcats all of the momentum heading into the locker room. She picked up right where she left off in the second half, scoring the first two goals after the break in just two minutes.
“I loved how we came out today,” Reese said. “We made some stops and controlled the ball on offense, but they’re a great offense. Their players make it really difficult to defend and they’re great shooters.”
Maryland was not able to limit the damage after giving up five goals in a row to Scane. Three different Wildcats scored unanswered goals in the first 10 minutes of the half, giving them eight goals in a row and a 12-7 lead.
However, the Terps did not go down easily this time. Shay Ahearn, Grace Griffin, and Hannah Warther scored three unanswered goals, cutting the lead to 12-10. Immediately, Scane answered once again, extending the Wildcats lead to five.
Brindi Griffin and Leubecker got the next two but Maryland could not get any closer than three the remainder of the way. Northwestern scored the final two goals of the game, including one by Scane, her ninth of the game, securing a 17-12 victory and the Big Ten Championship.
While the Terps obviously did not get the outcome they wanted to, there is still a lot to build on from this game. 17 goals is Northwestern’s lowest total on the season and their five-goal margin of victory is the Wildcats’ second lowest this season.
Maryland also shot 50% in the game, something that Reese has been preaching the importance of all season. The Terps proved that they can hang with one of the best teams in the country which will do a lot for their confidence moving forward.
“I honestly think our confidence is at a whole new level right now,” goalie Emily Sterling said. “After our last regular season game, we reset and said ‘we’re better than this and we need to bring the energy to do that.’ We’ve really stepped up our energy and confidence on and off the field.”
This game concludes Maryland’s all-conference schedule. Up next is the NCAA Tournament selection show, which will air on May 9 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.