BALTIMORE — Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
Staring down Boston College’s fourth-ranked offense, which features three of the best players in women’s lacrosse, Maryland goalie Megan Taylor was stoic on Sunday. Her saves — both of the ordinary and eye-popping variety — left Maryland fans cheering while Boston College fans shook their heads.
Taylor’s 10 saves represented the building blocks for Maryland’s 14th NCAA championship as Grace Griffin and Brindi Griffin (no relation) each scored three times in the Terrapins’ 12-10 win in front of 9,433 fans at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field, the fourth-highest attendance at an NCAA women’s lacrosse championship game.
It’s the third straight season Boston College has lost in the national championship game.
Taylor, a senior and a Tewaaraton Award finalist who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player, was the first person mobbed as the final horn blared. With the team’s third championship in five years secured, the only thing left to do was celebrate.
Even though Taylor wasn’t quite ready to let go of her stellar career at Maryland.
“Honestly, in that moment, I wish there was more time,” she said. “I never wanted to take off the jersey. I never wanted it to end. I wanted to keep playing the entire time.”
She rejected Boston College’s advances, even as the Eagles trimmed a 10-5 second-half deficit to 12-10 with 3:50 remaining. Kenzie Kent, one of BC’s standouts, scored four of her five goals in the second half.
Kent, however, was called for a key charge with 1:10 remaining, as Meghan Doherty planted herself on the crease to receive the contact. With momentum inching BC’s way, that was a deflating blow.
“I think that’s the beauty of our sport. You can play good defense without fouling,” said Maryland coach Cathy Reese, whose team committed 18 fouls to Boston College’s 36. “My staff — specifically, Lauri Kenis — believes we don’t need to swing our sticks. We don’t need to check. We just need to focus on good body position.”
The Maryland defense, spearheaded by Taylor and including Doherty, Julia Braig, Shelby Mercer and Lizzie Colson, was sound. Kent did excel in the second half, but West Babylon’s Sam Apuzzo (three goals) was forced to defer on many attempts to drive the cage.
Boston College (22-2) entered play 20-0 when outshooting its opponent but fell to Maryland (22-1) despite a 32-28 shot advantage. Boston College hadn’t scored fewer than 12 goals until Sunday.
“I think when you’re defending a team like Boston College, who has such powerful, dynamic attackers, you’ve got two Tewaaraton finalists on that offense,” Reese said. “And then you’ve got Kenzie Kent and a handful of others out there. We needed to make sure we weren’t leaving each other out on an island.”
The double-teams were aggressive. The slides were timely. The crashes to the middle were suffocating. In the instances in which Boston College was able to shoot on goal, Taylor smothered half of the attempts.
Taylor also made 14 saves in a 25-13 win over Northwestern in Friday night’s semifinal.
Caroline Steele, who scored Maryland’s first two goals and assisted on a goal by Grace Griffin that put Maryland ahead 4-2, praised Taylor’s performance.
“She makes every single one of us better,” said Steele, who burst into laughter when describing the frustration of having to practice against Taylor, who proved to be the Eagles’ Kryptonite.
“She’s just one of a kind and the best goalie in college lacrosse and the best goalie I’ve seen,” Reese said. “She can light up a room with her smile. She can make people laugh around her.”
She’s the immovable object to the Eagles’ previously unstoppable force.