BALTIMORE — After a 90 minute delay from the initially announced start time, Northwestern just never seemed to get off the starting blocks. In the most important game of their season, the Wildcats fell 25-13 to Maryland.
#4 seed Northwestern (16-5), in their first NCAA semifinal appearance in five years, never led the Terrapins (21-1), who got going early and poured it on in the second half. Izzy Scane buoyed the Wildcat offense with five scores, but the defense allowed Maryland to run up the most goals in a single game in the entire tenure of longtime head coach Cathy Reese.
The Terps came out hungry for revenge after NU’s 16-11 victory over them in the Big Ten Championship just two weeks earlier, establishing a quick 3-0 lead within the first five minutes of the game. Scane quickly responded to keep Northwestern in it. The Big Ten freshman of the year came out firing, tallying a hat trick within the first game’s first ten minutes.
On the other side of the field, Northwestern’s defense had no answer for Maryland’s one-on-one drives to goal — eight of the Terps’ first nine scores were unassisted. The defense almost seemed to pick it up when they forced a Maryland shot clock violation midway through the first half, but an intercepted pass in transition shut them down, and senior defender Julia Braig turned the tide with her first career goal.
Senior Mallory Weisse also had an uncharacteristically poor first half. Despite entering with a save percentage near .500, she recorded just three saves and allowed 11 goals in the opening thirty minutes.
Despite a few glimpses of strong individual play, the Northwestern offense in the first half was largely messy, a trend that continued all game. Lindsey McKone added two goals, and Brennan Dwyer supplied seven draw controls, but ten turnovers across the first thirty minutes cost Northwestern valuable possession time. They entered the break trailing by four.
As the second half began, Selena Lasota got going. She scored within the first 40 seconds, and then again two minutes later to complete a hat trick of her own. This momentum continued with two more Wildcat goals, one from Emily Stein and one from Scane, cutting Maryland’s lead to 13-11.
But the Terps put the pressure back on almost immediately. Brindi Griffin remained a problem for the Wildcats throughout the second half, scoring her career-high fifth goal to stretch the advantage back to three. With 19 minutes left, though, Scane matched her to score her fifth goal and seventh point of the game, making it 16-13 Terps and giving Northwestern fleeting hope.
Izzy. Scane.— Northwestern Lax (@NULax) May 25, 2019
Scane sends an absolute ROCKET past the goalie for her fifth goal of the game!
H2 19:06| NU 13 - UM 16 pic.twitter.com/uMAU0QGHgb
But Maryland, who had seemed to be on the verge of taking control all night, finally did.
A Northwestern yellow card after another quick score gave the Terps a man-up situation they could capitalize on. They retook a five-goal lead in the blink of an eye, and reached the 20-goal mark just minutes later.
The Terrapins held Northwestern scoreless for the last 19 minutes of the game, scoring nine goals themselves in that period. The Wildcats were firing increasingly desperate shots, and senior goalkeeper Megan Taylor had already begun to dominate.
By the end of the game, Taylor had 14 saves for Maryland, compared to Weisse’s six. Head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller finally put in freshman Madison Doucette when the Terps reached a ten-goal lead, forcing the clock to run continually, but by that point there was nothing the Wildcats could do but sit by and watch Maryland celebrate.
For a Northwestern team that had made history earlier in the month with their first Big Ten title, this loss was a particularly disappointing way to end the season. The 12 goal spread marked the widest margin they had lost by all year, and the 25 goals were three more than they had allowed to any other opponent.
The Wildcats will lose a number of important contributors, most notably Lasota, the back-to-back Tewaraaton Award finalist and All-American who tallied a whopping 282 goals over the course of her career.
Northwestern returns plenty from this year’s exciting group, but the seven-time national champions will have to regroup to try and make it back to the mountaintop.