The dynasty of Maryland women's lacrosse has been paused.
After winning 52 of their last 53 games, the Maryland Terrapins saw their run come to an end on Sunday as they fell to the North Carolina Tar Heels, 13-7. It is the second-ever national title for the Tar Heels.
North Carolina, who had a phenomenal season with a 20-2 record, was the first to knock off the Terrapins all season. It is the Tar Heels' second championship in four seasons after they defeated Maryland three years ago.
Maryland opened quickly with a 1-0 lead, but a six-goal run from the Tar Heels set the pace for the game. The lead for the Terps lasted just 46 seconds, and North Carolina never looked back. It was the first time all season that a team scored double-digit goals on the Terps, and also the first time in the year that Maryland was held to under ten goals.
Meg Ward made a career-high 14 saves to lead the Tar Heels after she had been pulled in the semifinal victory over Penn State. Ward had allowed allowed five straight goals without making a save, but the Tar Heels went back to her in the cage.
Carly Reed, Aly Messenger, and Sammi Jo Tracy each scored six goals for North Carolina in the tournament. Messenger also added a career-high four assists in the final match, while Tracy won six draws. Messenger was named the game's Most Outstanding Player for her performance.
This was not the first time this season that the Tar Heels had success against Maryland, after having relinquished a lead early in the season. North Carolina has won four of its last six contests against the Terps, despite Maryland becoming a dynasty this decade.
This time, North Carolina's attack was just too much for the Terps to sustain.
Taylor Cummings sees her collegiate career come to an end as a Tewaaraton finalist and favorite, and she won two national titles in her four seasons with Maryland. She won four draw controls and scored one goal in her final game.
Megan Whittle led the Terps with three goals in the game and Caroline Steele scored two.
Even after the initial run from the Tar Heels, they would go on to have another 5-0 run late in the second half that would put the contest too far out of reach for Maryland.
This was a matchup that both teams knew well; they've faced each other in three of the last four national championships, with North Carolina winning the first and Maryland taking it last year.
Maryland's closest attempt at a comeback came out of the half when Whittle scored her third and Cummings her first and only tally to cut the Tar Heel lead to 7-6. However, North Carolina added two goals itself within the next 15 seconds of game time to put an end to any Maryland momentum.
Maryland had some chances late, but a turnover from the Terps offense and a Ward save on Cummings' final shot put any hopes of a comeback to rest, and North Carolina was crowned the best team in the nation.
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