By Kerry Bretti
CHESTER, PA..- Less than a week after the Maryland men ended Syracuse's season, the number one nationally ranked Maryland women put a dramatic end to Syracuse’s season Friday night in the NCAA semifinals. The Terrapins dominated across the field during their 19-9 victory over the Orange. With the win, Maryland keeps its perfect season alive.
Maryland’s offense was firing on all cylinders from the first draw. Taylor Hensh scored for the Terps just 41 seconds into the first half after Maryland won the first draw. Fast forward to the second half with just over a minute left, the Terps were still firing as Hensh scored again already up 18-9. Hensh was one of three players to finish the night with four goals. Tewaaraton Award finalist Taylor Cummings and Megan Whittle, who were face-guarded at the beginning of the game, also put up four goals each. Cummings and Whittle combined for six goals in the second half. Zoe Stukenberg finished with a hat trick for the Terps. Maryland went on two 5-0 runs; one in each half. Maryland scored on 10 of 13 shots in the first half. The Terps were four of five on free-position shots.
“We’re lucky enough that we have seven people on the field that can score,” Cummings said. “At the beginning, they were shutting off Meg, Zoe and I and that allowed the four other people to have so much room to work. They were able to create space for themselves and put the ball in the back of the net. When you have”
“Our team played toughed,” Syracuse Head Coach Gary Gait said. “It is incredible for a team to onto that field with that level of confidence as a defending national championship team. I was impressed with the confidence they showed making few mistakes. They shot incredibly well today, 10-for-13 in the first half and it was hard to answer that. I think we felt tight in the first half, and we played exposed. You can’t do that against the best team in the country.”
Syracuse’s offense was led by Riley Donahue who finished with a hat trick for the Orange. Donahue scored less than a minute after Hensh’s first goal; false hope of a game that would be back and forth. Syracuse trailed 10-4 at the half and opened the second half with back-to-back goals, also false hope of a comeback. Nicole Levy and Halle Majorana each scored two goals for Syracuse while Kayla Treanor was held to only one. Syracuse did win the draw battle, though, winning 16 of 30 while Treanor set a new single season record of 217 draw controls.
Another Tewaaraton Award finalist, Alice Mercer, was matched up with Treanor on Maryland’s defensive end. Mercer finished with three ground balls and three caused turnovers. Maryland won the ground ball battle, 14-7.
“I love playing Syracuse,” Mercer said. “It’s always a fun game. Regardless of score, it’s always a battle. As far as playing against Kayla, she’s a great player. She’s proven that time and time again. She wasn’t going to let up. I had a lot of help even though it was my matchup. We played a really good team defense.I just played her square and we were ready to send the early double when she came into our eight.”
Megan Taylor made seven saves of the 16 shots on goal for the Terps. Maryland cleared a perfect 13 of 13 times.
Allie Murray began the game in goal for the Orange but was replaced by Bri Stahrr after 35 minutes in cage. Murray made zero saves of the 13 shots on goal during her time between the pipes. Stahrr made three saves on nine shots. Syracuse tallied 57 fouls and seven yellow cards. Three of the yellow cards were handed out in the final three minutes of the game. Maryland had a three-man advantage at one point.
“I think we left Allie in a vulnerable situation, especially early in the game,” Gait said. “We tried to not give them a lot of space but they were able to get good shots off. Like I said earlier, 10-for-13 in the first half that is pretty impressive. It is actually pretty amazing shooting to be honest. They did a heck of job and that just made it tough.”
With the win, Maryland improves to 22-0 and will go on to face North Carolina in the National Championship game on Sunday. With the loss, Syracuse finishes 19-6.