Northwestern came into this game hoping for a share of the Big Ten regular season title, but No. 1 Maryland showed no mercy in Evanston on Thursday night.
For a while, No. 15 Northwestern (9-8) had hope against undefeated Maryland (17-0). The Terps mustered just one goal through the first 15 minutes and went down 2-1 after a goal from Northwestern’s Danita Stroup. It was a strong defensive start for the Wildcats, but their inability to grab a larger early lead hurt them later down the line.
Maryland broke down Northwestern’s defense with four unanswered goals after the 15-minute mark. Caroline Steele scored a hat trick in two minutes and Caroline Wannen added a fourth. Suddenly, Northwestern was reeling, and a Nessulbush goal off a free position shot was not enough to stem the tide.
In what seemed like no time at all, Maryland punched in another three goals. Northwestern won all the draw controls as well, but turnovers and missed shots kept handing possession back to Maryland. By the end of the half, it was 9-4.
Maryland’s offensive firepower kept Northwestern on the back foot in the second half. But it was Maryland’s defense that really sealed the game. Despite repeatedly winning draw controls and getting okay shots, Northwestern did not score for the first 15 minutes of the second half. Meanwhile, Maryland stretched its advantage to 14-5.
I could give a description of the 11 Maryland second half goals, but there’s really no point. Northwestern had no answers and only managed four consolation goals by the end of the game. Despite winning the draw control battle 19-10 and taking nine free position shots, Northwestern lost by 11 goals. It was ugly.
Northwestern ends its regular season above .500 and in contention for the NCAA Tournament, but the loss virtually guarantees they will draw a low seed and two tough matchups. We shall see what Northwestern does in the Big Ten Tournament, but right now Maryland is in command of college women’s lacrosse (sighs).
The Big Ten Tournament starts on May 5 and the draw will be announced when the season ends.