On Sunday, for the first time since 2012, the national championship took place without the Maryland women's lacrosse team.
In the final four two days prior, the top-seeded Terps lost to No. 4-seed Boston College, 15-13, ending their six-year streak of national championship appearances.
The loss was the result of uncharacteristically poor play from Maryland, which failed to go on the type of runs that separated it from opponents all season, and a quiet game from all-time leading scorer attacker Megan Whittle, who produced just one goal on three shots in her final college game.
"Boston College is a great team and a great defense and they threw a lot of different things at us," midfielder Jen Giles said. "We weren't finishing our shots. … That was something that we could have done better all over."
Maryland scored the first three goals of the game and jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but the Eagles responded with four consecutive scores to level the contest at 6-6. The teams went back and forth from there, with eight lead changes over the final 40 minutes.
In many of its close games this year, the Terps turned to Whittle to supply offense and put a game away. In their quarterfinal win over Navy, Whittle scored three consecutive goals to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 16-14 lead. She was averaging 3.95 goals per game entering the final four but took only attempted three shots, scoring once, against Boston College.
One of her misses was a free position look from eight meters, the type of opportunity Whittle usually buries.
"I know she wishes she would have been able to finish on that," Reese said.
Whittle's struggles were due in part to being face-guarded by Eagles defender Elizabeth Miller, Reese said. The lack of production meant that for one of the first times all season, Whittle wasn't available to media after the game.
"Whittle is one of the greatest athletes that we've seen this year. … She is just about impossible to stop," Eagles coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. "It's not just one person's job to stop her. We had to incorporate three to four people in different sliding packages and different techniques to try to stop her."
The senior was an integral part of the Terps' last two semifinal wins, scoring seven combined goals in the previous two final fours to push Maryland to the final game of the season. But the Eagles' gameplan worked, stopping Whittle one game short of reaching four national championships in her Maryland career.
"Our season ended but I can't say enough how proud I am of her," Giles said. "She's had such an amazing career and obviously will mark history with all her records she sets."