For the second time this season, Stony Brook forced a Maryland women's lacrosse offense that loves to run and gun into a more deliberate attack. The strategy slowed the Terps, but it wasn't enough to beat them.
After giving up an early goal and struggling to find the openings in the Seawolves' zone defense, the No. 1 Terps scored six straight times to spark an 11-3 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament Sunday at Maryland's Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
The Terps (20-0), aiming for their 12th national championship, will host No. 10 Duke, a 10-5 victor over No. 11 Navy, in a quarterfinal game Saturday. The winner advances to the final four at Villanova Memorial Day weekend.
In March, the Seawolves (17-3) held Maryland to its lowest offensive output of the season in an 8-3 Terps victory on Long Island. They stayed with a game plan on both ends of the field aimed at keeping the ball out of the Terps sticks.
"For us to try to run a track meet with Maryland, that's really not the brightest thing that we could ever try," second-year Seawolves coach Joe Spallina said. "I think [the defense] does set a tone. The biggest thing with that defense is you've got to beat it with seven sticks. We talked about Maryland being great … so this makes them share the ball and get different people involved and it's not so much iso offense."
Their version of the backer zone defense kept the Maryland offense off balance and they worked the ball patiently on attack looking for openings in a Terps defense that twice held a Stony Brook attack averaging 15.53 goals to just three.
Early on, the Terps looked jittery on offense, turning the ball over seven times in the first half, including twice in the first four minutes. That helped Stony Brook take a 1-0 lead on Emily Mercier's goal, which came off a feed from Claire Petersen after the Seawolves won a scramble for a loose ball near the restraining line.
The Terps missed their first five shots — three saved by Frankie Caridi, who finished with seven saves — before reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Katie Schwarzmann (Century) tied it on a free-position goal with 13:25 left in the first half.
Three of Maryland's early goals came on free positions, with only Kelly McPartland finding a first-half hole in the Seawolves' defense to feed Beth Glaros.
"When a team stalls on us, we get really excited to have the ball and we want to fast break," Terps attacker Alex Aust said. "We like to use our speed and all seven attackers can score, so when we do settle it down, we really have to be disciplined and focus on not turning the ball over and on making that 100 percent pass and finishing our goals. Mentally staying checked in is the key."
The Terps got a couple breaks late in the first half when Spallina asked for a timeout that the official was slow to call. In the meantime, the Seawolves turned the ball over, leading to Aust's free-position goal. A random stick check then found an illegal Stony Brook stick, giving the Terps the ensuing draw and Brooke Griffin's free-position goal.
In the second half, coach Cathy Reese's Terps scored twice in the first three minutes. Griffin, who led Maryland with four goals, nailed a highlight-reel shot when she took a loose ball and whipped it into the net behind her. Glaros fed Taylor Cummings (McDonogh) for a transition goal after Shanna Brady forced a turnover at the far end of the field.
Stony Brook pulled within 7-3 with 22:30 to go on the second goal from Demmianne Cook, the nation's leading goal scorer and the Seawolves all-time leading scorer despite playing just two years at Stony Brook.
Glaros (Wilde Lake) and Griffin (South River) scored back-to-back goals for a 9-3 lead with 12:30 to go and the Seawolves couldn't get anything going on offense the rest of the way in large part because Maryland had the better of possession.
"We just settled into our game and playing Maryland lacrosse," said Aust, who finished with two goals and two assists. "We let them take us out of our game a little bit and focus a little too much on their D, whereas we just went into a straight freelance offense where we could find our openings and just play with each other."
SB 1 2 -- 3
M 4 7 -- 11
Goals: SB—Cook 2, Mercier; M—Griffin 4, Aust 2, Glaros 2, Cummings, Schwarzmann, McPartland. Assists: SB—Peterson; M—Aust 2, Cummings, Glaros, McPartland, Schwarzmann.Saves: SB—Caridi 7; M—Howard 4.Copyright © 2015, CT Now