Maryland Controls Syracuse for Sixth Straight ACC Crown
|Maryland celebrates its sixth straight ACC Championship at Boston College Sunday afternoon, having handed Syracuse its second defeat of the season - both coming at the hands of the Terrapins. (Maryland Athletics)|
In-Game Blog Replay
"Draws get possession, and possession gets goals."
That simple post-game saying by University of Maryland sophomore midfielder Taylor Cummings was a mantra that colored Sunday's ACC women's lacrosse championship between the Terps and Syracuse University.
Cummings won 10 draw controls to the Orange's three in the first half alone, giving Maryland the possession edge that helped them earn a decisive 13-7 win over Syracuse for their sixth consecutive and final ACC title. After going into halftime up only two goals, the Terps used defensive changes in the second half to limit a the Orange to only two second half goals.
The defeat was Syracuse's scond of the season, both of which came at the hands of the Terrapins, whose lone loss was against North Carolina.
Cummings was the perfect example of Maryland's well-rounded team win. She added three more draws in the second half, while scoring three goals (one in the first, two in the second), picking up a game-leading three ground balls, and covering Orange offensive threat Alyssa Murray, for an overall stellar day for the Terps.
"She's a competitor," said Maryland head coach Cathy Reese post-game. "She was able to control the draw for us, and on both ends of the field as well. We had her marking Murray for part of the game, and then our whole offensive unit played well today. We didn't make passes that weren't there. We were able to get a good look on the cage. She did a good job for us all over the field."
Cummings won the opening draw control, which led to an Erin Collins shot that sailed over the net. A brief Orange possession was tangled up midfield, and Brooke Griffin picked up a ground ball to hand possession back to Maryland. Griffin passed it to Kelly McPartland, who shot it back to her, setting her up for the opening goal less than three minutes into the game.
Syracuse's Kasey Mock went off for a hit that allowed Griffin to score another goal four minutes later, but Murray would answer with her 47th goal of the season four minutes later to get the Orange on the board. Teammate Kayla Treanor evened the game up with a free position shot just over a minute later.
The teams traded goals, but a series of goals by Griffin, Cummings and McPartland opened up a three goal lead for Maryland with twelve minutes left in the first half. Treanor used her physicality to open up a space in front of the Terps' net and have a clear shot to finally stop Maryland's scoring streak. On the next possession, Griffin controlled the ball behind the Syracuse goal, dodging hard stick work by Orange defender Kasey Mock, to find Jen Mendez, who had been subbed in just minutes prior, who shot center on goaltender Kelsey Richardson to give Maryland a 7-4 lead. After possessions stopped up by calls for each team, Taylor Poplawski used a great cut in front of the Maryland net to score to bring the Orange within three. Maryland turned up the pressure on Syracuse in the half's last five minutes to limit their opportunities.
Reese made some changes to her defense in the locker room at halftime with hopes of further limiting Syracuse's possession time.
"It is really hard to stop Treanor and Murray," said Reese. "When they get going, they can be really damaging. Treanor had three goals in the first half, and we needed to find an answer. We needed to make sure we were crashing in and getting our slides there. We needed to have them pass the ball more instead of attack us one on one."
The changes worked. Maryland continued to dominate time of possession, and scored the first three goals of the second half, including two Cummings goals, to take a 10-5 lead. Katie Webster, who led the way for Syracuse in their semifinal win against North Carolina, finally got on the board halfway through the second half for the Orange's first goal of the frame to bring Syracuse within four. Maryland took it from there, dominating the ball and pressuring Syracuse hard when they were able to snag possession for the rest of the game. The Terps added three more goals in the last 14 minutes to put the game away.
In addition to Cummings, Griffin also led Maryland the game with three goals. Treanor led the way for Syracuse with her three first half goals.
Post-game Syracuse head coach Gary Gait was disappointed, but easily identified what had gone wrong for his team.
"They had possession 70 percent of the game, and that tires you out. We couldn't hit that switch to get it going the other way," said Gait.
For Reese, the title marked the end of an era, as the Terps will play in the Big Ten Conference next year. "It's been an emotional week for us. I think the history behind Maryland lacrosse, and the tradition of it in the ACC, is special. This was a special moment for us. This is a championship I'm really proud of, and I'm really proud of the girls and how they executed."
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