May 30, 2010

By Jeff Seidel
Special to NCAA.com

TOWSON, Md. - Maryland coach Cathy Reese gave her team one simple piece of advice before Sunday's Division I national championship game against Northwestern - have fun.

The Terrapins had a real blast, winning their first national crown in nine years with a 13-11 victory over the five-time defending champion Wildcats before a record crowd of 9,782 at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

But Maryland certainly didn't have much fun at first. Actually, the Terrapins didn't enjoy very much at all. The reason? Northwestern (20-2) looked like it was going to run Maryland (22-1) off the field and turn this title game into a rout.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-0 lead 8:36 into the game, and Maryland couldn't seem to do anything right. Northwestern held the ball for most of the first 10 minutes. But the Terrapins eventually settled down.

"After the 6-0 run, we never gave up," said Most Outstanding Player Caitlyn McFadden. "[After] each goal, we came together and said [to] keep fighting and stay in it. It doesn't matter. We've been in a losing position before and fought back. We completely believed in each other and kept playing with...confidence and heart and came back from it."

Maryland gave up numerous high-percentage shots that goalie Brittany Dipper couldn't do much with. All six of the goals came on shots not far from Dipper, but the Terrapins finally buckled down and began to stop the cutters and quick passes in front.

"We were allowing shots to go right in front of the cage, which gives Dipper no chance, especially in the sun," said Maryland defender Brittany Poist. "We had to chip away, one at a time, and it was nothing to be negative about."

Dipper made three quick saves that helped the Terps begin to rally after trailing in the first half. She finished with seven stops, and that proved crucial to the comeback. Her play in goal helped Maryland hang around early.

The Terrapins needed to maintain their composure and realize that they still had plenty of time left to start a comeback. But that was not an easy task.

"It was a little frustrating as an attacker standing behind the line," said Maryland attacker Sarah Mollison. "I just wanted to go down and get the ball and help our team try and get the ball back, have some possession and give ourselves some opportunities to get on the scoreboard."

Maryland was still trailing, 8-3, when everything seemed to click. The Terrapins' tough defense held Northwestern scoreless for over 27 minutes, and Maryland reeled off seven straight goals to take the lead. The Wildcats rallied to tie the game at 10 before Maryland scored three of the final four goals. McFadden got a goal and an assist in that stretch to help the Terrapins take charge in the final 12 minutes.

Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and her players said afterwards that they expected Maryland to rally after the six-goal deficit.

"I think that if you get down the stretch and play teams like Maryland, you are not going to put any team away in the first half, even if we're up 15-0 in the first half," said Northwestern's Danielle Spencer. "I still don't think that we would've just put them away because it's got to be a full 60 minutes."

Reese couldn't say enough times how proud she was of her team on this night. Everything went wrong at first, but Maryland stayed steady and pulled off a remarkable comeback to win the championship.

Plus, the Terps sure had some fun.

"I'm so proud of this 2010 team," Reese said. "The heart and the fight they displayed were outstanding. I think they showed such great composure and such great poise and just played a great game to fight back from that [start]."