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No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse knocked off by No. 18 Penn State, 12-7

The Terps’ nine-game winning streak came to a close.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse scored the first two goals of the match against No. 18 Penn State.

However, the Nittany Lions came to play, scoring six of the next seven goals and running away with the win. The Terps were never able to gain any sort of momentum and ill-advised turnovers cost them a number of possessions. Ultimately, it was not a good showing from Maryland, as it fell to Penn State, 12-7.

“I think every game in the Big Ten is physical,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “(Penn State) executed their game plan well...they attacked us hard and they earned the win tonight.”

The game kicked off with a Maryland draw control win. The offense was unable to get into an immediate rhythm, with junior attacker Chrissy Thomas succumbing to the gritty Penn State defense and turning the ball over.

Just a few minutes into the match, Maryland went a woman up after stalwart graduate defender Abby Bosco drew a yellow card. However, the Terps were unable to get into a groove, even with the extra player. A number of passes were off the mark, and freshman midfielder Emma Muchnick had to force a shot in order to beat the shot clock.

On the other side of the ball, Maryland’s defense was as strong as ever, forcing three turnovers on the Nittany Lions’ first three possessions. The Terps’ shut-down defense turned into more chances for them on offense.

Maryland’s next two possessions were successful, scoring off free position opportunities. Two of Maryland’s best pure shooters, freshman midfielder Kori Edmondson and senior attacker Libby May, were the beneficiaries.

In the first frame, Maryland had turnover issues of its own, though. A pass that was picked off in the offensive zone turned into a Nittany Lion fast break. A free position opportunity ensued, and they capitalized.

Towards the end of the quarter, the Terps took a conservative approach on the offense side of the ball, albeit being a woman down for a period of time. It led to a shot-clock violation.

The contest had all the makings of a defensive battle, as Maryland only led Penn State 2-1 after one frame.

Both teams began the second quarter slowly as well. Maryland was slow to set up on offense, and became trapped in a number of unfavorable situations. At one point, Edmondson, who usually operates on the wing, was behind the net needing to find a net-front presence with the shot clock running down. Instead, it resulted in yet another Penn State save.

Penn State tied the game about seven minutes into the second frame. Senior midfielder Meghan Murray reached into her bag of tricks and pulled out some great isolation offense, dodging right up the middle for a point-blank shot. Minutes later, a free position attempt gave Penn State a 3-2 lead.

Maryland continued to struggle, not scoring for over one quarter’s worth of play. Finally, at the 2:20 mark of the second frame, senior midfielder Shaylan Ahearn found May posting up in the middle of Penn State’s zone defense. Turning around quickly, May bounced one past the Nittany Lion goalkeeper.

The theme of the second quarter remained rock-solid defense and goaltending, and it concluded in a 4-3 Penn State lead.

“I think we did a good job at that point of kind of sticking to our game plan and riding out the highs and lows,” goalkeeper Emily Sterling said.

The third quarter started off with a questionable shot by Maryland and a subsequent wraparound score for Penn State. The Terps had trouble working the ball through the perimeter of the Nittany Lion defense, which was air-tight.

On the contrary, Penn State’s ability to penetrate the Maryland defense and draw fouls earned it a slew of free position chances. That’s exactly how it scored its first goal of the quarter.

Halfway through the period, May gave the Terps some life, scoring her third on a free position attempt. It seemed to energize the offense, which suddenly played with more energy. Passes became more crisp and the confidence was palpable.

Minutes later, junior midfielder Eloise Clevenger capitalized on a beautiful net-front pass. Clevenger, who played with a heavy heart after losing her mother to cancer Sunday, brought the Terps to back within one.

It didn’t last long, though, as a Penn State tight-window pass to the crease area resulted in a score. The third frame ended with the Nittany Lions leading the Terps, 7-5.

The fourth quarter began with two quick scores by Penn State. It seemed to take some of the life out of Maryland, which looked to be gaining some ground late in the third frame.

Midway through the quarter, Edmondson netted two to make it a 9-7 game and give Maryland some hope. But the inability to string together more than a few minutes of clean play together plagued the Terps.

In the fourth frame, the Nittany Lions feasted on free position opportunities. What typically is a facet of the game that Maryland dominates became an advantage for Penn State. Its three late goals put the game away for good.

“You’ve got to reset and be able to move on,” Sterling said. “I think it’s nice that we have these 10 days to be able to reset, refocus and kind of adjust to what we need to adjust to.”

Three things to know

1. Second-quarter woes. The Terps stalled on the offensive end in the second frame. There was simply nothing they could do to break through the Nittany Lions’ back end. It forced their attackers to attempt shots from well outside the eight-meter arc. This gave Penn State sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Bowan easy chances to make stops, and she finished with a total of 10 saves. For the game, the Terps had seven scores on 25 total shots.

In the second period, the biggest difference was foul differential. Maryland had eight fouls while Penn State committed just four. It allowed the Nittany Lions more chances to score on free positions. They had nine opportunities to the Terps’ six.

“We weren’t really attacking the cage very hard,” Reese said. “We felt like we weren’t really executing what we were asking for on offense.”

2. Issues on the draw. While Maryland wasn’t terrible on draws overall, it had some issues in the third quarter that ultimately hindered its ability to mount a comeback attempt. In that frame, they lost the battle 4-2. In the fourth quarter, when the score had just became 9-6 and Maryland was looking to go on a run, an untimely draw violation gave Penn State possession and another opportunity to waste some time.

Ultimately, these timely mistakes cost Maryland, which couldn’t seem to formulate any sort of momentum as a result.

“To be honest, I don’t really understand a couple of the calls but it is what it is,” Reese said. “It was just a little deflating at that point.”

3. Turnover disparity. Maryland was horrendous in the turnover department today, giving the ball away 16 times to the Nittany Lions’ nine. Oftentimes, the Terrapin turnovers came in the offensive end, as they had a tough time executing cross-field passes and putting players in scoring opportunities.

The disparity also meant more time of possession for Penn State, which was able to waste away ample amounts of clock in the final quarter.

“There were too many turnovers for us on the offensive end,” Reese said. “The lack of urgency and too many uncharacteristic turnovers kind of put us in a tough situation tonight.”