Brindi Griffin never got a chance to get nervous in the 2019 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Final Four. Maryland goalkeeper Megan Taylor, one of the team’s senior leaders in 2019, wouldn’t have any of that for her younger teammates.
“I remember right before we played Northwestern, Meg Taylor texted me and was like, ‘I have so much confidence in you. I want the ball in your hands,'” Griffin said. “I remember hearing that from an amazing player like her and it just gave me so much confidence. I think that’s what our Maryland culture is all about.”
Griffin, a junior last season on a team powered on the field and everywhere else by nine seniors, played the best lacrosse of her career when it mattered most. The Edgewater, Md., native tallied a career-high six goals in the national semifinals against Northwestern, a team that had beaten Maryland in the Big Ten tournament. The 5-foot-4 attacker added three more goals in the 12-10 national championship win against Boston College and earned all-tournament honors for the national champs.
“Brindi is such a dynamic attacker with great field sense and ability to get to the goal,” Maryland head coach Cathy Reese said. “She’s incredibly shifty, really good behind the cage and a vital leader on the offensive end for us.”
And now Griffin is one of nine 2020 seniors leading Reese’s 14th Maryland team, and the expectations are high. The Terrapins were preseason No. 1 as voted by national coaches, and those expectations are a part of the deal in that Maryland culture.
It’s no coincidence Maryland has played in 11 consecutive Final Fours and won five titles during that span, including last season’s 22-1 run to the 15th national title in program history.
“It’s supporting each other, going out and really playing for the girls next to you,” Griffin said. “It means so much.”
Of course, Griffin doesn’t know any other way. She was 80-0 and helped pace McDonogh to four straight high school national championships.
“Maryland and McDonogh are very similar in that regard,” she said. “McDonogh really helped me being ready to play at Maryland. A lot of the values — working hard, supporting one another, being best friends not only on the field — are the same. It’s not just playing for each other. It’s loving each other.”
“Love” comes up a lot in conversation with Griffin about lacrosse, Maryland and her teammates. Older sister Brooke was an All-American for the Terrapins, playing from 2011-2015, and that was Brindi’s first introduction to Reese and what playing for Maryland meant. She was hooked, and that passion has never ebbed.
“You hear players that are kind of ready to be done playing and ready to graduate, but everyone from Maryland, you hear the graduates say they would do anything to be back,” Griffin said. “We appreciate it. Being a senior now, I wish I could stay and be a part of it as long as possible.”
Griffin will graduate this spring, but as you might imagine, her love for lacrosse will likely keep her in the sport. Coaching will be a top option, and she may get a jump on that this season with so many younger Terrapins in tow.
Maryland projects to have another long campaign deep in the postseason — history would indicate such — and as valuable as Griffin has become on the field as a dynamic offensive force, she may be just as important off the field now, showing the same kind of leadership that Taylor, the 2019 Tewaaraton winner, demonstrated to her.
Maryland has 12 freshmen, and in another Terrapin tradition, 11 of them are ranked in the top 100 prospects in the country and five in the top 20, according to Inside Lacrosse.
“I’m really excited to show the younger girls what this team is all about and lead them,” Griffin said. “It’s very exciting. We still don’t even really know where everyone is playing yet or what is going to happen. The younger players are so talented, though, and really fitting in with our style of play.”
Griffin says sophomore Maddie McSally is ready in goal, and she has been impressed with freshman midfielder Shaylan Ahearn, a top recruit.
“She plays exactly like [2017 Tewaaraton winner] Zoe Stukenberg,” Griffin laughed. “Everyone says that. She’s amazing at ground balls, fits in really well and doesn’t play at all like a freshman.”
Stukenberg and 2017 IWLCA National Defender of the Year Nadine Hadnagy were the leaders Griffin looked to as a young player.
“I was a freshman once, and I had Zoe and Nadine that kind of showed me the way,” she said. “They taught me how to fit in with the team and what the Maryland culture was about. Now I get to do that.”
Griffin’s own career started slowly, not moving into the starting lineup until her sophomore year. But she has been a fixture ever since, leading last year’s high-powered offense in assists (24) and saving her best performances for Maryland’s biggest games.
“Cathy always tells us 2019 is behind us now,” Griffin said. “The focus is on this season.”
Spoken like a true team leader.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Originally published Feb. 18, 2020