Just over five minutes into the game, Maryland field hockey had allowed Penn State a penalty corner chance.
Bree Bednarski, Penn State’s lone goal scorer prior to Friday’s matchup, fired the ball in from the right penalty corner attacker’s mark, where it was then downed by midfielder Elena Vos at the top of the shooting circle. Defender Anna Simon, Penn State’s leading goal scorer in 2019, rifled a laser past Frost to give the Nittany Lions a one goal lead.
The score set the tone for the game and the Nittany Lions did not look back from that point forward, with the Terps struggling to keep up in a 3-0 defeat.
“We did not play well,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “We played a good team that played very systematically as one.”
While Penn State struck first, the match got off to a slow start, with neither team generating any chances in the first five minutes.
With 9:44 to go in the first quarter, Penn State registered the first shot of the contest by either team, a low shot by midfielder Sophia Gladieux. Maryland goaltender Noelle Frost quickly moved off her feet and dove towards the right side of the cage, making an impressive stick save to keep the game scoreless. But it was just seconds after that Penn State got its first penalty corner of the game and Simon gave them the 1-0 advantage.
Maryland had a golden chance to even the score with a minute to go in the first period of play. Forward Bibi Donraadt turned Penn State over deep in its own side of the field, with only one defender to beat. Donraadt got past her, leaving only the forward and Penn State goaltender Brie Barraco. Unfortunately for Maryland, Donraadt’s shot trickled to the right of the goal and the game remained scoreless.
The Terps earned their first penalty corner of the game with three seconds remaining in the same quarter, but Barraco made a body save.
“I think we all know Brie from a couple different USA [events],” senior midfielder Brooke DeBerdine said. “She’s a very good goalkeeper. She's very quick with the reflexes.”
At the end of the first quarter, Penn State led Maryland, 1-0.
The Nittany Lions continued their strong play early into the second quarter, earning their second penalty corner of the game just 20 seconds in. Frost made another impressive save, keeping the game at 1-0.
Donraadt had another chance to even it up for the Terps as its midfield stormed into the Penn State zone with 45 seconds to play in the half, but her shot again flew wide right of the net. Thus, the first 30 minutes of play closed with Maryland down 1-0.
The third quarter started very similarly to how the first one did, with neither team to generate any chances in the early going.
With around 11 minutes left in the period and Maryland in possession, redshirt junior forward Mayv Clune received the ball and struck into the top right side of the Penn State shooting circle. With her momentum heading to the ground, Clune fired off a diving shot, but it was kicked away by Barraco.
The first real discipline of the game was handed out nearly 40 minutes in, a green card to Maryland’s Brooke DeBerdine that gave Penn State an opportunity to capitalize.
Though Maryland didn’t let up a goal then, or during the Nittany Lion’s third penalty corner, the team folded in the fourth. With 1:16 left to go in the third period, Simon passed in the ball from the left side of the cage to the consistently active Gladieux. As Maryland only had four players in its own shooting circle, a backhanded shot appeared to go off the stick of Rayne Wright — who was standing directly next to Frost in the penalty corner situation — and up into the top left corner of the cage.
Maryland was in a seemingly deep hole entering the fourth quarter down 2-0, but the Nittany Lions only continued to extend the deficit.
Penn State accelerated into Maryland territory with an advantage in players. Gladieux received a pass on the right side of the field and looked up to find midfielder Emma Spisak alone in the middle of the Maryland shooting circle. With just Frost to beat, she made a beautiful spin move and flicked the ball into the back of the cage to put Maryland in a 3-0 hole.
“I applaud them,” Meharg said. “I look forward for us to watch the game together, and then to come out on Sunday.”
Maryland had a chance to chip away with just over 10 minutes to play, earning its second penalty corner of the day. However, the Terps came away empty-handed, as Barraco did not even have the opportunity to make a save.
Taylor Mason and Anna Castaldo had shots for Maryland later in the fourth quarter, but the Terps were still unable to get anything going, falling to 2-3 on the season.
“The connection just wasn’t there between the lines today,” DeBerdine said. “We didn’t come out with a good mentality... It’s all about mentality and it’s all about moving forward, so that’s what we’re gonna keep doing.”
Three things to know
1. Penn State dominated the first half, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Penn State fired away six shots in the first half, including five on goal. While the Nittany Lions scored their only goal of the frame in the first quarter, the momentum kept heading in a positive direction for them, registering four shots in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions kept the game at a fast pace, with only three stoppages for penalty corners — two which they earned — in the first 30 minutes.
2. Maryland failed to generate penalty corners all game. The Terps’ struggles on executing penalty corners has been a consistent theme through the first four games this season. In this match, however, Maryland struggled to even have chances to succeed at them, only generating one throughout the first three quarters of play.
“I think the game is about a game of invasion, it’s layer by layer,” Meharg said. “We’re a culture that likes to intercept. Today we didn’t intercept in [the] back or intercept in the midfield. So then our numbers weren’t up, and when you have numbers up going into the front zone, then you’re going to have more chances to get penalty corners.”
3. Noelle Frost was impressive, despite allowing three goals. Maryland’s goaltender made six saves throughout the match, matching her total in the Terps’ victory against Ohio State. While the offense failed to score in 60 minutes, Frost was not the reason the Terps lost. One of the goals was on a Penn State breakaway, where Frost had to lay out and give her best effort with no defenders in the area. Her play on the turf with multiple diving saves was more than enough to keep Maryland in the majority of the game.
“She’s outstanding,” Meharg said on Frost. “She’s simple, she’s tactically very smart. She speaks when she needs to, she makes big time saves. There’s only so many saves you can make. Maryland didn’t step up and intercept today.”