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March 27, 2021 — Northwestern returns in kind

The last time the University of Maryland and Northwestern met on a women’s lacrosse pitch was the 2019 national semifinal in Baltimore. On that occasion, the Wildcats suffered a difficult defeat, losing 25-13.

This afternoon, Northwestern made its own history in a 25-12 defeat of Maryland in the first of a two-game series in the Big Ten Conference.

The historical marker was this: the 25 goals for the Wildcats represented the largest total ever conceded by a Maryland women’s team since becoming a varsity team in 1972.

Of course, we have to add some context to this. Today’s contest was held under radically different rules from when Maryland allowed 19 goals to Ursinus in 1976. Back then, all the sticks were made of wood, there were no hard boundaries or 35-yard lines, and there was no possession clock.

Indeed, it’s notable that since the institution of the 90-second clock, scoring has trended upward, with only rare occurrence of winning teams in the single digits.

All you have to do is scan the scores for Maryland during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In the 2016 varsity season, no game in which the Maryland women played had the losing team in double digits. This includes the NCAA final won by North Carolina 13-7.

But the next season, with the stall out of play, Maryland allowed double-digit scores in 11 out of 23 games — and still won the national championship. In 2018, that number rose to 13, and in 2019, that number dropped to eight, but that was the year goalie Megan Taylor won the Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation’s best collegiate player.

Maryland can’t brood on this result for very long: the team has a rematch Monday against Northwestern in a game scheduled for a national cable broadcast.

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