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No. 7 Maryland field hockey vs. No. 8 Penn State preview

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The Terps face their first conference opponent of the season.

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics
UMTerps

The No. 7 Maryland Terrapins welcome the No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions to College Park for its Big Ten showdown at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.

The Terps (4-1) are coming off a dominant victory on Sunday versus the California Golden Bears, in which they registered their third consecutive shutout. Penn State (5-0) comes into the matchup with a flawless record. Most recently, in a Sunday matinee matchup, the Nittany Lions defeated the Delaware Blue Hens with a convincing 3-0 victory.

Last season, the Terrapins and Nittany Lions split their season series. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these two teams did not face off at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex and solely played in Pennsylvania.

The last time the Nittany Lions traveled to College Park, they suffered a 3-1 loss to the Terrapins.

Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, Maryland leads the series against Penn State, with a 6-2 regular-season record. The Nittany Lions lead the postseason series over the Terrapins, with a 3-1 advantage.

The game will is set for Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. and will air on BTN Plus.

Now let’s look at the Nittany Lions of Penn State.

Penn State (5-0)

2020 record: 7-7 (5-2 Big Ten)

The Nittany Lions are led by their head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss, who’s returning for her 35th season as the unquestioned leader for her club. Morett-Curtiss has seen nothing but success during her time at the helm at Penn State while earning a 510-213-8 record.

The legendary coach is currently slotted as fifth all-time in Division I history with victories, with a combined 544 victories. In the past nine seasons, Penn State’s astonishing coach has guided the Nittany Lions to three Big Ten regular-season titles, eight NCAA tournament appearances, and three Big Ten Tournament Championships.

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Famer has exhibited excellence throughout her tenure at her alma mater and consistently builds strong teams on an annual basis.

Players to know

Anna Simon, senior defender, No. 17 — Simon comes into the showdown versus Maryland ranked third in the Big Ten in goals, registering seven goals in the Nittany Lions’ five games. The defender from Germany attacks in a plethora of ways and is relentless when she’s attacking opponents’ net as she capitalizes on corner opportunities. Last season, the talented defender registered two goals in the season series versus the Terps.

Sophia Gladieux, sophomore midfielder, No. 3 — Gladieux has started all five games this season and has been consistently making plays in transition for the Nittany Lions. She currently ranks second on the team in goals scored this season, recording five goals in the brief 2021 campaign. Gladieux leads the Nittany Lions on the season with 22 shots in five games.

Mackenzie Allessie, junior midfielder, No. 2 — The do-it-all junior contributes to the Nittany Lions explosive offense with contributions in multiple categories. Allessie is currently tied for third place on her team with two goals on the season. She is also currently tied for first place in assists, as she has recorded six dimes in the early onset of the season.

Strength

Scoring. The Nittany Lions possess one of the strongest offenses in the country, as two of their players are ranked within the top-10 in the Big Ten in scoring. Penn State is ranked fifth in the Big Ten in offense, averaging 3.8 goals per game. Morett-Curtis’ team has imposed its will on teams by outscoring them by a 19-7 margin.

Weakness

Shots percentage. For an undefeated team with essentially no glaring weaknesses, Penn State struggles to convert their shots at a high clip. The Nittany Lions have a shots percentage of 27.5 in five games this season. No. 8 Penn State averages an impressive 13.8 shots per game and is still unable to cash in on many of their opportunities which is an area that must be assessed in this showdown.

Three things to watch

1. Can the Terps defense limit the Nittany Lions explosive offense? Maryland’s defense has been nothing short of sensational the past three games, as it has registered three consecutive shutouts. The Terps have been pressuring their opponents with their speed and athleticism from midfielders Brooke DeBerdine and Belle Bressler. The Nittany Lions are averaging 3.8 goals per game this season and the Terps' ability to limit Penn State’s offensive effectiveness will be something to watch.

2. Can Maryland continue its dominance at home? The Terps are currently 3-0 at the Field Hockey And Lacrosse Complex and will look to secure their fourth victory over a ranked opponent this season. Conference games are extremely important and earning a victory over a top-10 ranked opponent could possibly catapult the Terps up the top-25 rankings.

3. Will Maryland spoil the Nittany Lions’ unbeaten record? Penn State comes into the highly-anticipated Big Ten matchup versus the Maryland Terrapins with a flawless 5-0 record. The Nittany Lions have defeated then-No. 8 Virginia, William & Mary, Albany, then-No. 20 Saint Joseph’s and then-No. 19 Delaware in their undefeated season. The Terps’ offense features must-see athleticism and it will be paramount if Maryland hopes to defeat Penn State at home on Saturday.

Editor’s note: The game time and network the matchup will air on have been updated.