CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - No. 1 Maryland topped North Carolina 12-8 to capture its fifth straight Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Lacrosse Championship Sunday at Fetzer Field.
The Terps (19-0) were led by hat tricks from Brooke Griffin, Beth Glaros and Taylor Cummings. Katie Schwarzmann - who was named ACC Championship Most Valuable Player for the second straight season – tied a championship game record with four assists against the Tar Heels (14-3).
A tightly-contested first half began with both teams feeling out the wet conditions at Fetzer. It would be Maryland who would strike first with a Griffin goal at 27:00. North Carolina answered exactly three minutes later with a tally from Abbey Friend. Maryland’s rookie tandem put the Terps back on top with a Cummings goal from Halle Majorana at 17:47.
UNC’s Brittany Coppa and Kara Cannizzaro gave the Heels their first lead of the game with scores at 16:39 and 10:38 but Maryland surged ahead with three unanswered goals to cap the half with a 5-3 advantage at the break.
Kasey Howard led a solid defensive stand in the first half, tallying seven saves in the first 30 minutes alone.
The Terps kept that momentum rolling into the second, with three additional unanswered goals in the first five minutes of the stanza – including two from Griffin – for a decisive 8-3 advantage.
UNC finally stopped the scoring stretch with a goal from Emily Garrity at 24:11 but goals by Alex Aust, Griffin and Erin Collins extended the Maryland lead to 11-4. The Terps recorded six goals in the first 11 minutes of the period.
After a Cummings goal gave Maryland an eight-goal cushion with 14 minutes left, UNC recorded four straight to shrink the lead to five but the Terps held on for their 10th ACC tournament crown.
Maryland recorded a season-high 29 ground balls in arguably its best defensive performance of the year. Kelly McPartland, Iliana Sanza, Melissa Diepold and Cummings registered four apiece.
“I’m just so proud of this team and especially our senior class,” head coach Cathy Reese, who led Maryland to a fourth-straight win against Carolina in the title game, said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. You have two very talented teams playing against each other. I thought we played a great game defensively, probably the best we’ve played all season defensively. On offense, we were pretty smart with our decision making, especially in the second half, which allowed us to pull away with the win.”
In addition to Schwarzmann, Beth Glaros, Aust, Griffin, Cummings, and Howard were tabbed to the all-tournament team.
Maryland has next weekend off before it discovers its NCAA tournament destiny when the bracket is announced Sunday, May 5.