For the first few minutes of Sunday’s NCAA women’s lacrosse second-round game, Stony Brook, not Maryland, looked like the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. The Seawolves consistently won draws and built an early four-goal lead. Finally, Maryland Coach Cathy Reese called a timeout.
“We needed to just take a second,” Reese said, “take a deep breath, reset and let's fight to come up with a stop.”
The Terrapins soon came up with a stop, found their footing and then dominated, pushing through for a 17-8 victory.
In the final 50 minutes, the Seawolves scored just three times while Maryland rattled off one score after another, highlighted by four straight goals from Erica Evans to close the first half on an 8-0 run.
Maryland (19-1) advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will host Denver (16-3), which knocked off Michigan on Saturday, 9-5.
Evans, a graduate transfer, provided the spark for the Terrapins with five goals and two assists. Evans, previously a standout at Canisius College, has scored at least five goals in three of the past four games as she gains confidence in Maryland’s system. She is tied with senior captain Jen Giles as the Terps’ leading goal scorer. Giles, Caroline Steele and Grace Griffin added three goals apiece against Stony Brook (16-4).
“The special thing about our team is it doesn’t matter who scores or who makes the play — but that we’re doing it together,” Giles said.
A week ago, when the Terps lost in the Big Ten tournament final against Northwestern, they shot poorly, scoring on just 11 of 32 attempts. They returned to their usual form Sunday, finishing off 65 percent of their shots.
Reese wanted her team to emphasize free-position shots, knowing the Seawolves’ aggressive style of play could lead to opportunities from eight meters out. Maryland worked on those shots every day in practice this week, Evans said, and converted six of eight such attempts against the Seawolves.
Stony Brook had 19 fouls to Maryland’s 10, and the Seawolves played without Ally Kennedy, the team’s leading scorer, for much of the second half after she received her second yellow card.
Stony Brook advanced to this second-round game by beating defending national champion James Madison in overtime on Friday; Maryland, which hasplayed in 10 straight Final Fours, had a first-round bye.
Maryland opted to bring Meghan Siverson in for some draw controls, and the Terps began to earn more possessions after the sluggish start. The Terrapins’ defense communicated well and limited Stony Brook’s attack. Senior goalkeeper Megan Taylor, who leads the nation with a .563 save percentage, struggled to make saves early but then excelled in the second half. Midway through the first half, Maryland finally secured a lead, and it only swelled from there.
“We started to get our feet under us and were able to change the way the game was going,” Reese said.
The players mentioned a “next-play mentality,” both in the way they managed to surge out of the early hole and how they returned to form after last weekend’s showing.
Maryland’s loss in the Big Ten tournament final was just the fourth loss in the careers of this senior class. Two of those came in the NCAA tournament — once in the 2016 final and last year in the semifinals — so only one other time have these Terrapins needed to regroup quickly for a game that followed a defeat.
“We had a little chip on our shoulder, and we knew we had to come out strong,” Evans said. “This week in practice really proved that. Everybody came out and worked so hard in practice this week.”
Maryland still had those early missteps, but the final 50 minutes far outweighed the struggles. Against Northwestern, the hole Maryland fell into proved to be insurmountable. This time, the Terps adjusted and powered ahead. Now, Reese said, it’s just a matter of extending that performance through the full 60 minutes.
“That wasn’t in the game plan to start off that way, but really credit to these players and the way that they responded,” Reese said. “The way they handled the pressure of being in an NCAA tournament and being down in as big of a hole as we were I think was huge.”