There are a lot of words you can use to describe Maryland's start to conference play in 2015. Frustrating. Inauspicious. Disappointing. Agonizing. Whatever you wish to choose, the bottom line was that Maryland was 1-1-2 coming into this game against Penn State and had just five goals in four conference games. Four of those came in one match. A road trip to Happy Valley against the Nittany Lions would be a challenging test and one you felt the Terps needed to pass if they were to challenge and win the Big Ten title. Maryland answered the call this evening, pulling out a wild 4-3 win over Penn State.
Maryland made a nice start, almost immediately getting two early crosses into the Penn State box. Both were dealt with easily by the PSU defense.
Following the early Terps buzz, the Nittany Lions took control of the game over the next 10 minutes, testing Cody Neidermeier on three occasions. After Riley Grant had a shot blocked, Mac Curran had a header off a corner that was parried by the Maryland goalkeeper. Neidermeier then had to make another great stop immediately after, as Connor Maloney picked up the rebound and shot on goal. Another save was forced on an effort from a bit further out by Drew Klingenberg.
It was Klingenberg who, in the 17th minute, gave Penn State the lead. He picked up a pass from Riley Grant and shot past Cody Neidermeier to break through and render Maryland's resoluteness in the early going obsolete.
Maryland brought on Jorge Calix for Amar Sejdic in the 23rd minute as they looked to find some much needed rhythm in their attack, which had been non-existent in the opening half to that point.
Unfortunately for the Terps it wouldn't be them who found offense over the next few minutes, but Penn State. Austin Maloney whipped in a fantastic ball which was met by the foot of his brother Conner, who tucked the ball past Neidermeier and made it 2-0 to the Nittany Lions.
it didn't take Maryland long to make a big response though. For the second time in as many games, Tsubasa Endoh got on the board for the Terps after him and Sebastian Elney broke in on goal quickly in a 2-on-1. Elney laid off into the path of Endoh and he shot into the bottom right corner to cut the PSU lead to one.
The goal seemed to spark the Terps attack into life and they found more looks soon after. Mael Corboz had a good shot from distance get saved by Bersano and the Terps had two corner kick opportunities in quick succession, but couldn't find an equalizer.
Maryland earned a late corner quick with under ten seconds late in the half. Jorge Calix whipped in the delivery, and with just two seconds left George Campbell headed in the equalizer to improbably tie the game up at two.
Through the opening thirty minutes PSU was running roughshod and all over the Terps. It looked like it was set up to be a really long night for the Terps down 2-0. But quality players make all the difference. Elney and Endoh combined to get their team back in the game and that gave them the spark they needed. One goal later and we had ourselves a game again.
Half-time: Penn State 2-2 Maryland
The momentum gained by Maryland at the end of the first half carried it over some into the second half as they had the first opportunity of the final 45, with Jorge Calix forcing a save from Matt Barsano.
Calix's effort was the only notable action in the early going of the first half...until George Campbell stepped to the forefront once again.
After heading in from close range in the first half, Campbell struck from outside the eighteen yard box in the second, as he drilled a shot right into the roof of the net, an absolute fantastic strike, that gave Maryland a 3-2 lead.
And if you thought Campbell was just going to stop there...well you were sorely mistaken. He scored AGAIN, just three minutes later, to complete his hat-trick and make it four unanswered Terp goals. This goal was a fantastic solo effort, as he drove down the field and shot into the top left corner. Three very different goals, and two fantastic ones just three minutes apart. They looked dormant at one point, but Maryland was firing now.
The goalscoring wasn't done, but this time it wasn't in favor of the Terps. After a Maryland foul, Brian James whipped in a dangerous free kick that was flicked on by Connor Maloney and into the back of the net. It was Maloney's 2nd, and Penn State had cut the lead down to one.
Maryland started to re-exert some control on the match, and tried to calm it down after the frenzy of goals and maintain their lead. Tsubasa Endoh had a shot saved, before Mael Corboz had an effort blocked and then a headed chance go wide that quickly followed.
Both teams made a host of substitutions with fifteen minutes to play as one side looked to maintain the lead and the other looked to fight back and get the equalizing goal.
Penn State increased the pressure in the final stages of the match, with Neidermeier forced to make some big stops on Mason Klerks and Drew Klingenberg. The shots and chances continued to come, and PSU's attack kept pushing on for an equalizer, but the Maryland defense was performing a very strong rear-guard action late in the match and would end up holding on to seal a big 4-3 win.
Final: Maryland 4-3 Penn State.
That was a game, to say the least. Penn State was all over Maryland in the opening third of the match. They were quick with their ball movement and just kept putting pressure on the Terps in their own territory. They went up 2-0. But Maryland didn't stop fighting. Their big players made plays to get them back in the game, and then George Campbell played the match of his life, with an incredible hat trick.
A big win for the Terps, as it gets them to 2-1-2 in Big Ten play. They'll be in action next on Friday the 16th, as they welcome Indiana to Ludwig.