TOWSON, Md. – Top-seeded Maryland utilized a balanced attack and a solid ground ball advantage to defeat No. 5 seed Northwestern 9-6 Friday in the semifinals of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship in front of 8,256 fans at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Kelly McPartland led Maryland (22-1) with a hat trick whileBrooke Griffin and Zoe Stukenberg each chipped in with two goals. Senior Beth Glaros added three points on a goal and two assists. The Terps mustered a critical 14-5 advantage in the ground ball category, paced by two each from Glaros, Taylor Cummings, Shanna Brady and Casey Pepperman.
Cummings kicked off the scoring for the Terps with a goal 3:29 into the game off a great look from Griffin. Northwestern answered with a Jess Carroll goal up the middle about seven minutes later and backed that up with a second-straight tally at 19:19 for its first lead of the game.
Maryland was able to counter in a big way, however, posting a demonstrative 4-0 run, including two tallies in the final 1:33 of the period for a 5-2 lead at the break. McPartland notched two goals in the stretch while Stukenberg and Glaros also got in on the scoring for Maryland. The Terps were also aided by a decisive 9-3 ground ball advantage through the first 30 minutes of play.
Northwestern snapped a nearly 25-minute scoring drought with a free position goal by Alyssa Leonard 5:30 into the second half before Maryland was able to negate the goal with a Glaros score at 23:13.
McPartland continued to facilitate the offense in the second half, finding Stukenberg for a Maryland goal at 16:19 and Griffin tacked on another score with a highlight-reel shot 14 seconds later for an 8-3 Terrapin lead.
Kara Mupo halted the 3-0 Terrapin scoring drive with a tally at 9:21 but once again the Terps countered with yet another goal from McPartland – her third of the game – for a 9-4 lead.
Northwestern cut the score to 9-6 with consecutive goals from Kelly Rich and Mupo with less than five minutes to play but was unable to get any closer as the Terps punched their ticket to the national title game for a second straight season.
In addition to ground balls, Maryland also topped the Wildcats in draw controls, 10-7, led by four from Cummings.
“I’d like to congratulate Northwestern on a great season and just say how proud I am of the way our team played tonight,” head coach Cathy Reese, who has won four national championships as a player, three as an assistant and one as a head coach at Maryland, said. “We came in and fought hard from the very beginning against an opponent who we know is very tough and we haven’t seen all season. We fought the entire 60 minutes and that was crucial tonight for our success.”
With the win, Maryland will make its 22nd berth to the national championship game. The Terps are 11-10 in the previous 21 appearances.
Maryland will play second-seeded Syracuse for a third time this season at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in the national title game at Unitas Stadium. The Terps are vying for a 12th national championship and their first since 2010. The game will be shown live on ESPNU.