Just over halfway into the second quarter of No. 2 Maryland field hockey’s top-five showdown against No. 5 Penn State, Nittany Lion junior forward Sophia Gladieux sprinted out in transition looking for her team’s fourth consecutive goal. Gladieux used her body to shun the defender away before ultimately sending a rocket into the left side of the cage.
Gladieux’s second goal was one of five unanswered scored by the Nittany Lions in a dominant performance, handing Maryland a 5-1 loss at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex on Friday evening.
The Terps had an opportunity to run the table in the Big Ten and clinch the regular season title outright, but now will have to wait for the result of the Nittany Lions’ conference finale to see which team will get the top seed in the conference tournament.
It was Maryland’s second loss of the season and first to a conference opponent.
The top-five showdown between two elite programs started with each offense looking to strike iron first.
Maryland wasted no time establishing a rhythm on the road.
With fewer than 10 minutes left in the first quarter, Maryland was assessed the first penalty corner of the game. Maryland graduate midfielder Danielle Van Rootselaar took a few steps before swinging a rocket past the outstretched hands of Penn State senior goalkeeper Brie Barraco. Van Rootselaar’s strong shot gave the Terps the early 1-0 lead.
Playing on their home turf, the Nittany Lions responded instantly.
About five minutes after Van Rootselaar’s goal, Penn State received its first penalty corner. Similar to the Terps, Penn State would capitalize on the scoring opportunity.
Gladieux fired a low shot that ricocheted off a Maryland stick, as the ball sailed over senior goalkeeper Paige Kieft for the equalizer. Gladieux’s 19th goal of the season evened the game at one apiece heading into the second quarter.
The Nittany Lions offense came alive in the second quarter, capitalizing on several Maryland miscues.
Early in the second quarter, Penn State senior midfielder Mackenzie Allessie swiftly dribbled through defenders before finding a vacant area in the circle. Allessie used a half-spin to create hesitation, as she fired a shot into the cage to give Penn State a 2-1 lead.
Penn State would continue applying pressure on the offensive end.
Almost a minute after Allessie’s goal, Penn State was back in scoring position on its second penalty corner of the first half. Penn State graduate midfielder Anna Simon sent a wide shot that ricocheted off Maryland junior defender Rayne Wright’s foot, entering the cage for another Nittany Lions goal. Simon’s goal gave Penn State a commanding 3-1 lead with several minutes to play.
Gladieux’s second goal of the second quarter not only gave Penn State an insurmountable lead, but tied her with Northwestern forward Bente Baekers for first in the Big Ten in scoring with 20 tallies this season.
Jemma Punch’s fourth-quarter goal made it a 5-1 ballgame, which was the icing on the cake of a blowout victory over the No. 2 team in the land.
The Terps will return to College Park for their final home game of the season on Oct. 26 versus No. 7 Virginia. The game will start at 5 p.m. and can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
Three things to know
1. Maryland dropped its first conference game of the season. The Terps’ loss to Penn State marked their first loss in Big Ten play this season in their final game. Maryland struggled the entire afternoon, as it recorded just seven shots and one goal. Maryland’s only other loss this season was to a nonconference opponent in Princeton.
2. The Terps’ defense struggled in the second quarter as Penn State’s offense found its rhythm. The second quarter was electric, as both teams searched for the go-ahead goal. Penn State took a 2-1 lead on an impressive play by senior midfielder Mackenzie Allessie and wouldn’t look back. The Nittany Lions would go on to score two more goals, which marked four consecutive scores. Maryland’s defense was a step slow the entire evening, as they struggled to stifle Penn State’s attack. This evening’s loss marks the first time Maryland has relinquished five goals this season. The Terps attempted to shift momentum with senior goalkeeper Christina Calandra replacing sophomore Paige Kieft, but the Nittany Lions hot streak proved to be too much to overcome.
3. With two games remaining in the regular season, what’s next for Maryland? Maryland moved to 14-2 with two games remaining in the regular season. The Virginia Cavaliers come to College Park on Oct. 26 before the Terps close out the season on the road versus UConn on Oct. 30. The Terps’ loss to Penn State keeps the Nittany Lions alive for the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament from Nov. 2-6.