The Terps (8-5 B1G) took care of business against Michigan (3-9 B1G) and will advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
The first half was the most dominant Maryland has looked all season but they slowed down in the second half making this a closer game than it should have been. Maryland’s offense looked unstoppable at times and was led once again by Hannah Leubecker who scored six goals including five in the first half.
“Tonight for us was kind of a tale of two halves,” head coach Cathy Reese said after the game. “The first half of lacrosse today was the best we’ve played all season. The second half, we had so many great looks and hit every pipe we could, but was really pleased with how we looked offensively.”
The first half got off to a pretty even start. Nadine Stewart opened up the scoring, giving Michigan a 1-0 lead five minutes in. The teams proceeded to trade goals over the next five minutes, pushing to score to 2-2.
From that point on, Maryland absolutely dominated the half. The Terps scored eight unanswered goals by four different players over a 14:36 span in the first half. Leubecker and Libby May did most of the damage, scoring three goals apiece over the scoring run.
After the Terps’ tenth goal, Michigan opted to make a switch at goalie. Starter Arielle Weissman was replaced by Mariah Sweeney after Weissman stopped just two Maryland shots on 12 attempts.
Kaitlyn Mead finally got Michigan back on the board at the end of the half but at that point Maryland already had a 10-3 lead. The Terps went on to score the final two goals of the half, including one by Leubecker with just three seconds left to give them a commanding 12-3 lead at the break.
“The key for our offense in the first half was we really took our time and all got on the same page,” Libby May said. “We were executing and finishing our shots, we just played lacrosse and played hard. The difference between the first and second half was our execution.”
It looked like Maryland would continue its dominance in the second half after Leubecker scored her sixth goal of the game just 50 seconds after the break. However, the Wolverines would not go down quietly. Four straight goals cut the Maryland lead to 13-7.
Sweeney’s play in the second half kept Michigan somewhat close throughout the second half. Michigan outscored Maryland 11-6 the remainder of the way after making the goalie switch.
A Shaylan Ahearn goal at 15:11 stopped the Michigan run and put Maryland back up by seven. The Wolverines continued to fight hard, though, and chipped away at the Terrapin lead throughout the half.
However, the hole that Michigan dug themselves into in the first half prevented them from ever making this a really tight game, even though they did outplay Maryland in the second half.
Reese would certainly like to see her team play a more impressive second half. Maryland only turned the ball over twice in the first half but had six turnovers in the second. They were also outdone in shots, saves, and ground balls, all areas in which they led in the first half.
“I don’t have any excuses for it, we weren’t good enough,” Reese said when asked about the second half. “We did a good job on offense of controlling the tempo and finding looks, but we didn’t finish. Michigan is a team that goes hard and we had a hard time stopping them.”
If Maryland can put together another performance like they did in the first half for an entire 60 minutes, they will have a strong chance at advancing past the semifinals and into the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Terps will take on either Johns Hopkins or Penn State Friday night at 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.