COLLEGE PARK -- It's easy to get caught up in Maryland's brand of women's lacrosse.
And as 10th-ranked Loyola found out yesterday, it's nearly impossible to play catch-up.
Breakneck lacrosse has worked well for the top-ranked Terrapins this season, and three times they built leads of seven goals on the way to a 17-9 victory in the final regular-season game for both teams at Ludwig Field.
Maryland (18-0) ran its winning streak to 25 games and has defeated Loyola (12-4) in 19 of the past 20 meetings. The Terps also recorded the third unbeaten regular season in school history.
After two close calls last week and with the NCAA tournament beginning Wednesday -- the Terps are assured of a first-round bye -- Maryland wanted to reassert itself before the playoffs. The Terps needed to shoot better and to refine their defensive muscle. Yesterday both were better.
The Terps converted 40.5 percent of their shots (17-for-42) and had eight players with at least a point. And Maryland allowed only three goals in the first half, which ended with the Terps ahead 10-3, and held Loyola to four shots in the final 14: 34 after the Greyhounds pulled within 11-8.
"We focused on fine-tuning our offense, and I thought we executed really well," Maryland coach Cindy Timchal said. "Our defense had a little letup at one part of the game, but over the 60 minutes, I thought we did a great job,"
Before the Greyhounds knew it, they were down by five goals and Maryland had 16 shots in the opening 15 minutes.
"I think everyone just worked together and everyone was clicking and making the right passes. We just wanted to play like we know we can," said sophomore Allison Comito, who tied a career high with six goals.
It was almost a reversal of form for both teams in the second half. Maryland loosened up on defense, and Loyola responded with three of the first four goals to cut its deficit to 11-6 on a goal by Kathleen O'Shea with 23: 24 left.
Maryland missed its next four shots and had three turnovers as its lead shrank to 11-8 after back-to-back goals by Loyola's Danielle Battersby and Kory Miller.
"We just waited too long to make it a game, and you can't play 30 minutes against the No. 1 team in the country," said Loyola coach Diane Aikens.
Loyola 3 6 -- 9
Maryland 10 7 -- 17
Goals: O'Shea 3, Miller 2, Morlang, Robinson, Santacroce, Battersby; M--Comito 6, Adams 3, Sommar 3, Egan 2, Jenkins, Hobbs, Wellington. Assists: L--DiTammaso, O'Shea, Morlang; M--Adams 3, Carney 2, Egan, Jenkins, Sommar. Saves: L--Dabrowski 21; M--Kahoe 9.