No. 11 Maryland women’s lacrosse comeback bid falls short in loss at No. 24 Rutgers

(Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

The Terps (7-5 B1G) made a valiant comeback effort against the Scarlet Knights (5-7 B1G) but ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback in a 16-14 loss.

Maryland struggled to contain the Rutgers offense throughout the day and gave up multiple runs in which the Scarlet Knights scored six or more unanswered goals. The Terps offense again struggled with consistency, looking dominant at times but also disappearing for long stretches.

“We had spurts where we did things really well but then droughts where we didn’t,” head coach Cathy Reese said after the game. “Credit to Rutgers, they came out to play and we didn’t. This is a day for us to reset, recharge, and get ready to prepare for the Big Ten tournament.” 

Early on, Maryland looked unstoppable offensively. After Marin Hartshorn opened up the scoring for Rutgers, the Terps scored three straight goals on the free position, including two in a row by Brindi Griffin. 

Taralyn Naslonski answered for Rutgers but then Griffin scored again on a fast break, giving Maryland a 4-2 lead, securing her hat-trick just nine minutes into the game. Unfortunately for the Terps, that was the last goal they would score in the first half.

Maryland finished the final 20:45 of the first half without a single goal while Rutgers proceeded not just to tie the game, also building a sizable lead. Six different Scarlet Knights scored over the final 20 minutes of the half, giving them an 8-4 lead entering the locker room.

However, Maryland’s offense responded, once again starting the half with a scoring run. Grace Griffin and Hannah Leubecker both scored in the first two minutes, cutting the deficit to two before a Cassidy Spilis goal put Rutgers ahead 9-6.

Three minutes later, Maryland had tied the game at 9-9. Grace Griffin and Leubecker each scored again and then Brindi Griffin scored her fourth goal of the day to tie things up. Once again, Maryland’s offense went dormant after an impressive scoring display.

The Scarlet Knights went on to score the next seven goals of the game over a 10-minute stretch that put them up 16-9 with eight minutes to play, putting the game out of reach.

Maryland did make things interesting,however, in the final five minutes of the game. Hannah Leubecker scored three goals and Shaylan Ahearn added two of her own, cutting the deficit to just two with less than two minutes remaining.

Brindi Griffin had two free position attempts with just under a minute left but failed to convert, keeping it a two-goal game. Rutgers was allowed to regain possession and run out the clock to secure a 16-14 victory.

“It was great to see how we executed in the last 5-7 minutes of the game,” Reese said. “However, I need our group to bring that energy and intensity for a full 60 minutes. We can’t have lapses like that and expect to come away with wins in our conference.” 

Maryland’s biggest issue today was failing to stop scoring runs by Rutgers before they did too much damage. It’s tough to beat any team when they are able to hang six goals in a row multiple times throughout the game. 

The Terps will have a long layoff before the Big Ten tournament gets underway on April 29th. A break will be nice after playing back-to-back two game weeks. Both the players and coaches are looking forward to getting back on the practice field to work on their shortcomings before the tournament begins.

“Practice is where it starts, practice translates to the games,” Leubecker said after the game. “Creating that urgency in practice and not just going through the motions is going to be huge and will really help translate into the games.” 

Maryland will face either Michigan or Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament on the 29th.