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Maryland women’s lacrosse vs. Penn State preview

Maryland will look to continue rolling in Big Ten play.

Maryland women’s lacrosse Caroline Steele vs. George Mason Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

No. 2 Maryland women’s lacrosse travels north to take on the No. 23-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in its second conference game of 2019.

Last weekend, the Terrapins opened Big Ten play with a dominant 16-1 victory over Ohio State. Everything went as well as possible for Maryland, as the Buckeyes gave up 14 unanswered goals to begin the game, including 12 in the first half.

Head coach Cathy Reese was pleased with the offensive and defensive performances by Maryland, holding a team that averages over 10 goals per game to just one and scoring with ease throughout the game.

Penn State enters this matchup averaging 11.12 goals per game, but also giving up 11.25 per contest. The Terrapins certainly have an edge defensively, but putting together a second dominant performance will be key to build confidence for a team that has struggled with letting teams hang around.

The Nittany Lions will also be without senior attacker Madison Carter, who suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this month, per a Penn State spokesperson. Carter still leads Penn State in goals and points, despite only being able to play in the first six games of this season. Without her services, the Nittany Lions were able to sneak by Albany, but lost to Michigan 12-9 last Saturday, and will be facing a daunting task in trying to replace Carter’s production with the Terrapins coming to town.

No. 23 Penn State (4-4, 0-1)

2018 record: 10-10, 3-3

Head coach Missy Doherty is in her ninth season at the helm of the Penn State program. She has amassed a 107-60 record at Penn State and a total record of 186-106 as a head coach including her opening job at Towson. In her time at Penn State, the Nittany Lions have won two conference championships, reached seven NCAA tournaments, and two final fours.

Doherty (nee Holmes) is a 1997 graduate of Maryland, and played defense for the Terrapins from 1994-97. She compiled a record of 68-2 in her time in College Park, including a 50 game win streak and three national titles.

Players to know

Sophomore midfielder Quinn Nicolai No. 3. Penn State has exhibited a rather spread out offensive attack in 2019, with five players scoring at least nine goals and 13 different scorers overall. Nicolai enters Thursday’s matchup on the hottest streak, as she scored five goals and assisted two more last time out in a loss to Michigan. As a freshman, she placed fifth on the team with 21 goals in 2018 and currently sits second with 15 so far in 2019.

Freshman goalie Taylor Suplee, No. 55. The Nittany Lions had been looking for a goalkeeper to take control of the reigns and Suplee has edged out the competition in 2019. The true freshman has started all eight games for Penn State and has compiled a save percentage of 47.7 while allowing 10.82 goals against per game. She faced a career high of 34 shots last time out versus Michigan, so the Terps could potentially look to tire her out with another high volume of shots faced.

Three things to watch

1. Will the road be kind to Maryland? The Terrapins play back-to-back road games against ranked teams starting with this matchup in State College, where Penn State has a 3-1 record. Without a true road test since traveling to Gainesville, Florida, in mid-February, the Terrapins will need to lock in to ensure continued success.

2. Can the Terps dominate from start to finish again? A repeat performance from last Saturday would certainly bode well for Maryland. The Terrapins have struggled with allowing ranked teams to hang around, so putting back-to-back dominant performances would be a welcomed sign of growth for this team.

3. Who will be the impact player in this one? Megan Taylor has been playing lights out for the last few weeks, while Caroline Steele and Kali Hartshorn have added key individual performances to the mix. Opposing teams will have to pick and choose who they try and shut down, but that will open the door for others to contribute at high level to make a difference.