The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Terps crumble in the fourth, exit NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament

James Madison 15, Maryland 14

The Maryland women's lacrosse team lost to James Madison, 15-14, in the second round of the NCAA tournament Sunday in Harrisonburg. (Maryland Athletics)
3 min

HARRISONBURG, Va. — In a 15-minute span, Maryland women’s lacrosse put on a master class against James Madison to enter the fourth period of its NCAA tournament game with a four-goal lead. The Terps won draw controls, forced fouls and displayed powerful shooting, putting themselves in position to reach the national quarterfinals.

Then JMU attacker Isabella Peterson took control of the match.

The Dukes star scored four goals in the fourth period, including the game-tying tally with just over two minutes remaining, and late substitution Caitlin McElwee deposited the winner with 54 seconds left to lift JMU to a 15-14 home victory in the second round.

“She obviously shot lights-out today on her opportunities, which was great for her,” Maryland Coach Cathy Reese said of Peterson, who finished with seven goals. “And obviously they came out on top today and shot better than we did, and looking at the scoreboard … we generated a lot more looks than they did, but they finished more than we did.”

No. 11 Maryland (15-7) outshot JMU 34-24 but could not match the efficiency of the No. 7 Dukes (19-2).

After a third period in which they completely controlled play and outscored JMU 4-1, the Terps led 12-8 entering the fourth.

Peterson scored twice to begin the final period, but the Terps responded with two more goals to go up 14-10. It all turned from there.

That four-goal lead turned into a three-goal lead. Then a two-goal lead. Then a one-goal lead, a tie and a deficit. The Dukes scored five times in the final 6:21, including Peterson twice.

After McElwee’s goal, Maryland won the draw control to give itself a chance to tie the score late, but it could not convert.

“Those are the moments you dream up as a little girl,” McElwee said. “That was the best feeling in the world. I didn’t even know the ball left my stick. And then I was like, ‘Wow, that just happened.’ ”

Reese said after Maryland’s 11-6 first-round win over Drexel on Friday that the offense needed to shoot faster and earlier. Senior attacker Hannah Leubecker, despite dealing with a lingering injury throughout the postseason, helped lead the way with her four goals.

It wasn’t that the Terrapins played a bad game, Reese said, but rather that they allowed the Dukes too many chances on late draw controls and possessions so they could chip away at all the work the Terps did in the third.

Maryland nearly silenced JMU’s offense in that third quarter, only giving up the one goal and holding the Dukes to three shots. Even then, the Terps failed on all three free positions in the third and converted only one of six throughout the game.

“I had anticipated we would draw more eight-meters today. But that wasn’t the case,” Reese said. “We need to do a better job on that — and feel like I’ve been talking about that a lot this season, unfortunately.”

James Madison advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since its 2018 national championship. Maryland, meanwhile, must regroup for next spring.

“Next year, we’re looking forward to continuing to work hard,” Leubecker said. “We’re going to give it our best shot. This just makes us [united] even more, so we’re going to continue to work.”