No. 13 Maryland women’s lacrosse edges Johns Hopkins 8-7 in semifinals

(Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Maryland (9-5 B1G) will make another appearance in the Big Ten Title Game after defeating Johns Hopkins 8-7 (8-6 B1G) in the semifinal game.

This is the third time this season that the Terps have beaten the Blue Jays by just one goal. Grace Griffin led the Terps on offense with three goals and Lizzie Colson was once again a force on defense with five ground balls, four draw controls, and three caused turnovers.

“I’m just proud of our team’s effort, it wasn’t pretty but we did what we needed to do to pull out a win,” head coach Cathy Reese said after the game. “Grace and Lizzie really controlled the field, those two really helped us lead the way tonight to give us the opportunity to compete on Sunday.” 

Similar to the first two games, the two teams played a very solid defensive first half. The difference this time around is that the first half was completely owned by Maryland. The Terps shut out the Blue Jays in the first for their first shutout in a half since 2019.

Brindi Griffin opened up the scoring for Maryland on a goal that took place with just one second left on the shot clock. Hannah Warther and Grace Griffin both added unassisted goals before Brindi scored the final goal of the half at the 12:12 mark.

The only reason Hopkins was able to keep the game close is because they had a strong defensive 30 minutes of their own, aided by goalie Kathleen Garvey who stopped half of Maryland’s shots and made multiple big saves. 

The Hopkins offense looked out of sync throughout the half as Maryland goalie Emily Sterling saved all five of their shots on goal. The Blue Jays also committed nine turnovers in the first half. However, Hopkins had to feel good about only being down four goals after being shutout. 

“The first half was incredible,” Colson said about the team’s defensive effort. “Turnovers tonight were so much better than they’ve been all season, we really took care of the ball in clears. Our communication tonight was great, we played for each other and trusted each other.”

The Blue Jays finally got on the board when Abbey Hurlbrink scored the first goal of the second half by either team. Hopkins wasted no time getting themselves right back into the game after two Mackenzie Heldberg goals brought them within one. 

However, Maryland did not waver. Grace Griffin and Hannah Leubecker answered quickly, scoring back to back goals to put the Terps back up 6-3. Griffin added another 10 minutes later to put the Terps back up by four.

Again, Hopkins fought back. Aurora Cordingly, Eliza Bowman, and Abbey Hurlbrink all scored within four minutes of each other to make it a 7-6 game with under 10 minutes to play. 

Libby May answered for Maryland at the 5:26 mark to give the Terps some breathing room but then Cordingly once again cut the deficit to one at 4:04. Maryland just needed to bear down on defense for four more minutes to advance and that’s exactly what they did.

With just over a minute to play, Colson intercepted a Hopkins pass and advanced the ball into the Maryland offensive zone. The Terps then began to play keep away and called timeout with 17 seconds to play, all but sealing the victory. 

Maryland once again opened the game with a spectacular effort in the first half but failed to keep its foot on the pedal in the second even in a winning effort. If the Terps do not play a full 60 minutes against Northwestern, they will have no shot at beating the Wildcats.

However, especially in the tournament, a win is a win and Maryland has shown repeatedly this season that they are able to grind out close games. 

“Maybe we wouldn’t have wanted it so close, but survive and advance,” Grace Griffin said. “I’m loving our confidence. All of us are going out there and having fun and at the end of the day, we’re playing a game. We’re playing lacrosse. That’s what we all love to do.” 

The Big Ten Championship will be at noon on Sunday, May 2nd on the Big Ten Network