By: Joe Catapano
After the team’s 4-0 loss Thursday night against Ohio State, Maryland head coach Ray Leone’s message to his players was to “stick together.” The Terrapins followed the disappointing result with one of its best defensive performances of the season Sunday afternoon despite falling 3-0 to the defending national champions, Penn State.
“I think [we] really measured up and did a great job against an incredible team,” Leone said after the game.
The Nittany Lions entered the game having not lost since Sept. 2 against UCLA. Although the Terrapins conceded three goals, all of them came off of corner kicks. Penn State’s Brittany Basinger headed home two goals from Nickolette Driesse in the 13th and 60th minutes and later in the second half, Elizabeth Ball scored an unassisted goal after Maryland’s Rachel Egyed made a save following another Driesse corner.
“It’s hard to stop [corners],” Leone said. “They didn’t have that many. We have to do a better job defending them so we’re going to have to practice that and make that accountable, too.”
Despite the three goals, Maryland’s defense played more together than any other game this season. In fact, Leone made no substitutions for any defenders the entire game. Defenders Marisa Knott, Jlon Flippens, Julia New and Hope Gouterman, along with Egyed in goal, played the full 90 minutes.
“I’m really proud of everybody on the defense,” Gouterman said. “I think from the top line to the bottom, it was all just [one unit] that we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Gouterman, a senior, took control of the Terrapin back line all afternoon. She led the defense by example, playing very aggressive and blocking a handful of Penn State shot attempts. Although the Terrapins couldn’t build off the defense’s performance, the Maryland offense noticed the difference between Thursday night and today.
“It’s really empowering to be honest,” forward Jarena Harmon said. “It makes you want to play better and want to help them out and open up for them because you know they’re working hard.”
Egyed made eight saves in goal, but her most notable moment came in the 36th minute when she came about 10 yards out of her box to halt Penn State’s attack.
The rest of the team was able to build off of Egyed’s aggressiveness in net.
“I think that her attitude is something that transpires throughout the entire team,” Gouterman said.
But once again, Maryland’s offense was stagnant for most of the match, as they were held scoreless for the second consecutive game. The Terrapins almost took Penn State by surprise in the second minute when Madison Turner broke free, before having her 1-on-1 attack stopped by Nittany Lion goalkeeper, Amanda Dennis. Other than that opportunity, Maryland found no success in four total shots.
“We [have to] get back to scoring goals again and seizing those moments,” Leone said. “So we’re going to have to practice finishing.”
Maryland (3-11-1, 1-6 Big Ten) returns to action this Thursday, taking on Purdue (3-10-0, 1-6 Big Ten) at 7 p.m.