Maryland Deals James Madison Its First Loss of the Season


Maryland attacker Megan Whittle attempts a behind-the-back shot. Whittle and Grace Griffin had five points apiece to lead the No. 3 Terps to a 15-12 win over No. 2 James Madison in College Park, Md.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – “Focus on the control goals,” James Madison coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe shouted from the Dukes sideline at the beginning of the second half of a 15-12 loss to No. 3 Maryland on Saturday.

It was a mantra that JMU wanted to uphold to prove its top-three ranking against the reigning national champion. Its 12 goals were the most scored by any opponent this season in College Park, providing solace despite the fact that the third-ranked Terps handed the second-ranked Dukes their first loss of the year.

“We’re trying to prove ourselves every time we step out onto the field,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter if we’re up against Maryland or Hofstra in our conference. We get it. We understand this is an excellent test and opportunity for us to validate what we’re doing within our program.”

With that mantra, Klaes-Bawcombe was specifically addressing the fouls JMU committed in the first half – 21 compared to just seven for Maryland. The Dukes needed to shift their attention to what was in their power. In the second half, fouls totaled 21 for JMU and 15 for the Terps.

“Rather than whine and complain about things we can’t control, like officiating, let’s put the focus on what we can control and I think that was the difference in the second half,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “It’s just controlling the controllables and not wasting energy on uncontrollables.”

After trailing by four at the break, JMU outscored Maryland 7-6 in the second half and pulled to within two of the Terps with 6:35 to play.

“I’m really pleased with our team’s resilience,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “Maryland clearly brought a great game today, and we were able to match that level a couple times to make it a game – which few teams are able to do.”

Kristen Gaudian, who scored her 100th career goal at the 9:12 mark in the first half, sparked a three-goal run with 12:06 remaining in the game. The second goal of the run forced Maryland to call a timeout to regroup.

“There were a couple runs in this game, and they weren’t all in our favor, that’s for sure,” Terps coach Cathy Reese said. “That’s what lacrosse is. It’s about finding a way to rebound. … We called a timeout at the 11-minute mark in the second half. We lost ourselves defensively in the middle of the second half, and we were able to reset and come through to stop a run of theirs.”

Maryland junior attacker Caroline Steele scored a much-needed insurance tally with 2:04 remaining.

“It got a little dicey,” said attacker Megan Whittle, the senior captain for the Terps who tied freshman Grace Griffin with a team-high five points. “They’re a very physical team, talented defense, but we were able to stick it out. That goal by Steele was a very big momentum [shift] for us at the end there.”

Maryland, whose only loss is to North Carolina, snapped two teams’ undefeated streaks this week after also taking down Penn on Thursday. Due to a Nor’easter that hit the Mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, the Terps had a tight turnaround with two top-10 opponents in three days. They ended spring break with a win in front of a record 2,361 fans, while also raising $8,300 in an annual Diabetes Awareness Game.

“They were ready to play,” Reese said. “Our philosophy could never be truer to focus on one game at a time. Everyone we play is good.”

With a fairly even offensive battle between Maryland’s No. 1 scoring offense (32 shots) and James Madison’s No. 4 scoring offense (33 shots),  junior goalie Megan Taylor made the difference with 12 saves for the Terps.

Gaudian – a recruited walk-on whose stats have exploded over the past two years – led the Dukes with a team-high five points on four goals and one assist, while also adding a career-high eight draw controls. Her shooting percentage ranked second in Division I women’s lacrosse heading into Saturday’s matchup. She currently has 42 points on the season (36 goals, six assists) after finishing 2017 with 60, compared to just 12 as a sophomore and two as a freshman.

“We have a lot of girls believing in their abilities right now,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “Kristen Gaudian is a force. … It’s hard for one player to take her game away.”

The Dukes will take Saturday’s loss as a learning experience as they could face the Terps again come tournament time, she said.

“It was a big game for us,” said Gaudian, who later joined her teammates and fans in the parking lot for a resounding Dukes dog chant. “We had our chance to prove ourselves. … We competed with them. It’s not like we didn’t compete. We can hang with anyone.”

Nike/US Lacrosse
Top 20 Scoreboard

No. 1 Stony Brook, UMass-Lowell 7
No. 3 Maryland 15, No. 2 James Madison 12
No. 4 Boston College 17, No. 6 North Carolina 11
No. 5 Florida 16, Georgetown 11
No. 7 Penn 16, Brown 10
No. 8 Loyola 18, Lehigh 5
No. 9 Virginia 12, Duke 8
Notre Dame 11, No. 10 Syracuse 10 (OT)
No. 11 Navy 18, Bucknell 5
Dartmouth 15, No. 16 Princeton 12
​No. 19 Virginia Tech 14, Elon 12

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