Members of the Maryland women's lacrosse team celebrate… (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina…)
Northwestern appeared ready to run away with its sixth straight NCAA Division I women's lacrosse championship Sunday when it ran up a 6-0 lead, but No. 1 seeded Maryland would come back to take a 13-11 victory and end the No. 2 Wildcats' reign as champs.
Caitlyn McFadden's goal with 5:47 left stood up as the game-winner before a record announced crowd of 9,782 at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium as the Terrapins (22-1) won their 11th national title and their 10th in the NCAA. Karri Ellen Johnson added an insurance goal on a feed from Sarah Mollison with 2:03 left.
Johnson, Mollison and Katie Schwarzmann scored three goals each to lead the Terps to a victory that ends the Wildcats' title streak at five and preserves Maryland's run of seven championships as the longest in the sport.
Maryland took its first lead of the game, 9-8, on McFadden's free-position goal to open the second half. It was the Terps sixth straight goal in the past 15:23.
The Terps then squandered a couple of opportunities, but the Wildcats helped them out by hitting a couple of pipes on their next possession and then turning it over on an unforced error. Abby Caso then fired a terrific lead pass to Brandi Jones for the long run and the transition goal to give the Terps a 10-8 lead with 19:57 left.
Turnovers on Maryland's next three possessions enabled Northwestern to slow the game down and pull even at 10 on Shannon Smith's goal with 12:03 to go.
Alexandra Frank brought the Wildcats within 10-9 with 17:39 left on her first goal of the game when Smith fed her from across the crease to break a 27:33 scoring drought. Smith then scored her unassisted goal to tie.
The Wildcats had a chance to take the lead for the first time in the second half, but Terps goalie Brittany Dipper saved Smith's free-position shot and McFadden fed Jones for the transition goal and an 11-10 lead with 9:51 left.
On Northwestern's next possession, Danielle Spencer turned the ball over on a charge on Laura Merrifield, and McFadden beat her defender at the far end for a 12-10 Terps lead with 5:47 to go.
Spencer pulled the Wildcats within 12-11 on her second goal of the game, working the crease with 2:57 left.
The one thing Maryland didn't want to do was fall far behind early against the Wildcats' potent attack, but Northwestern ran up its 6-0 lead in less than nine minutes. The Terps were undaunted, beginning their first-half comeback when Schwarzmann scored off a pipe rebound Mollison's shot with 18:49 left.
Mollison and Johnson added goals to cut the lead to 6-3 with 15:54, but Northwestern scored twice in 10 minutes on free-position shots from Amanda Macaluso and Taylor Thornton.
Schwarzmann appeared to score off the draw a few seconds later, but the goal was waved off because of an inadvertent official's whistle just before her shot. A few minutes later, however, the freshman and Century High graduate scored on a free-position shot to set the Terps off on a five-goal run that tied the game at eight.
Mollison evened the game when she took a long pass from McFadden off the draw control and slipped into the high near corner with 1:08 to go.
Dipper made her fifth save of the half against Katrina Dowd, who was tightly defended in the arc, with about 15 seconds left. The Wildcats were held without a goal on six shots in the final 15:12 of a half that featured 45 fouls -- 26 of them by Northwestern.