#1 Maryland women’s lax overpowers Ohio State

No. 1 Maryland huddles during a game earlier in the season. Photo by Evan L. Kramer.

By Alex Mann

On Senior Day, junior attacker Megan Whittle (four goals, one assist) and senior attacker Caroline Wannen (two goals, three assists) powered the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins in their dominant 18-9 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Less than five minutes in Maryland found themselves behind, as Ohio State’s Sage Darling (three goals) found the back of the net to open the scoring. The Buckeyes’ 1-0 lead was short lived, as the Terps’ Megan Whittle evaded her defender with a spin move before firing a high-to-low shot past Buckeye goalie Jill Rizzo, who made 13 saves.

Whittle doubled just over a minute later with a free-position shot that stung the top right corner. Maryland never trailed again. With four goals on the day, Whittle reached 50 goals on the season — good for eighth most in the country.

“[Whittle] is such a dominant player, such a dominant offensive player,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said. “[She has] great speed, great stick work, [and is an] excellent shooter.”

Maryland outshot Ohio State 45 to 21 and picked up more ground balls (21) than the Buckeyes (11). Senior midfielder Zoe Stukenberg (two goals) led by example, picking up four groundballs — a game high.

Though the Terps’ top-ranked scoring offense outshot the Buckeyes by a wide margin, only 68 percent of the shots were on target, as many clanked off the goal posts. Maryland’s shooting percentage of 40 percent was slightly below their season average of 48 percent.

“We generated a lot of looks offensively, [but] I felt like we were hitting a pipe every other shot,” Reese said. “It was just one of those days.”

With 22:17 on the clock Caroline Wannen threaded a pinpoint pass to a cutting Caroline Steele (one goal, two assists), who touch passed the ball into the net, giving Wannen her first of three assists on the day. With her three-assist day Wannen reached 25 assists on the season.

“Caroline Wannen is absolutely crucial to our offense,” Stukenberg said. “She’s our quarterback… she has just fabulous vision.”

Seconds before halftime, sophomore midfielder Jen Giles fired a pass across the crease to find Wannen, who got low to collect the pass and tap the ball into the Ohio State net. Wannen’s goal concluded a dominant first half for Maryland, as the Terps entered halftime with a comfortable 11-4 lead.

Ohio State came out firing in the second, stymieing the Terps’ powerful offense, thanks in large part to Rizzo’s outstanding goalkeeping. The freshman made five saves, helping the Buckeyes hold Maryland scoreless for over 10 minutes to open the half.

Reese acknowledged Rizzo’s stellar play in the goal, but maintained that Maryland’s shooting woes were to blame for the 10 scoreless minutes.

“It was all us,” Reese said. “We had two great transition, fast-break opportunities and hit the goalie, kinda behind the back flip thing… they were just such great looks.”

Freshman midfielder Kali Hartshorn paced the Terps in the second half, scoring three of her four goals. Ten Maryland players found the back of the net, which is a testament to their balanced offense, which features elite talent throughout.

“I think every grade brings something different and has different people who bring a lot of energy to the field,” Wannen said. “Everyone just goes hard and brings the same level of competitiveness every day.”

Maryland overcame Ohio State’s second half push, again commanding the game and expanding their lead to end the game nine goals ahead. Ohio State remains winless in Big Ten play, while the Terps have yet to lose a game.

“The bottom line is we have a lot of lacrosse left to play,” Wannen said. “We’re ready to get back to practice on Monday.”

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